“Survivorship is not just about life after cancer, it is about treating every person with cancer as a survivor from the moment they’re diagnosed,” said Ashleigh.
“Understanding the full experience of a person going through such a life changing disease and ensuring they get the very best care, information and access to tools they can implement themselves, is pivotal to successful treatment,” he said.
“Opportunities like the FCIC Survivorship Conference are where improvements and changes can start.”
Being a non-smoker and occasional social drinker, it came as a rude shock when Ashleigh was diagnosed with advanced squamous cell head and neck cancer in 2005.
With a wife and two-year old daughter at home and limited assistance, Ashleigh found himself navigating his own care and realising just how overwhelmed many people are when they are diagnosed with a life threatening illness.
“When you become a full-time cancer patient, you’re living in a world of uncertainty,” Ashleigh said. “My advice to others is to always question, always be vigilant because this is your life you’re fighting for.”
“If you don’t understand something, say so, if you think it’s incorrect, get a second opinion and find information for yourself,” he said. “I learnt pretty quickly that you have to take control of the situation.”
Ashleigh and a group of individuals from CVSA have been working with the FCIC Survivorship Conference organisers to ensure the meeting is useful to survivors and members of the general public.
“It’s important that we have people who have experienced cancer to come along and share their experiences,” he said. “Not only patients, but carers and loved ones so collectively we can continue to improve the quality of life after treatment.”
At the conference, CVSA will hold a morning Cancer Conversations that gives participants the opportunity to voice survivorship issues and perspectives. Results from a recent survivor led Cancer Conversations in Aboriginal communities will also be profiled at the breakfast.
The Conference will also feature international speakers, including Prof Patti Ganz – one of the pioneers of cancer survivorship and survivors like Phil Kerslake from New Zealand who will discuss the important role survivors have in shaping care that works.
Other speakers will include a mix of survivors, medical professionals, researchers and patient advocates - for the full program please visit www.fcic.org.au/survivorship2013.
The event will be held in February 2013 with a welcome speech by Prof Patti Ganz at the FCIC on the 1st of February, followed by a two day conference at the Stamford Grand at Glenelg.
For information on how to register please visit the conference website above or call 08 8204 5216 and ask for Maxine.