I had just graduated from my performing arts degree in Cambridge when I was diagnosed with a rare type of ovarian cancer. I had my heart set on establishing my career and meeting new people, but everything had to go on hold as I recovered from surgery and focused on my health.
It was a very hard time, but one of the first people to support me was CLIC Sargent, who gave me a grant to spend however I wanted. It really made me emotional to see such pure generosity and trust.
Then I got involved in the charity’s music programme, travelling to a residential trip in Wiltshire. At first I wasn’t sure about going to events with other people who’ve had cancer, but it was really worthwhile. I enjoyed every moment – we can joke together about cancer because we understand it. There isn’t that awkwardness.
I was very excited when the music programme organisers offered me the chance to be one of the CLIC Sargent singers, touring a series of gigs across the UK at Christmas, including performing at the Royal Albert Hall.
The support, encouragement and overwhelming feedback we received after each performance was incredibly moving and I could feel that we were a part of something truly special and inspiring for everyone who came along and showed their support.
Speaking publicly about my own experiences with cancer has always been difficult for me. I was in complete denial at the time I was diagnosed in 2013 and refused to tell anyone around me. The last thing I wanted was for my new life in London and all of the friends I had made to associate me with cancer and see me as an ill person, someone to pity.
Over time, I have become more confident with this part of my past. I feel so proud and fortunate to have achieved what I have with my health and career, despite the hurdles thrown at me. I feel empowered and empathic to others who have gone through similar experiences, connecting paths with so many inspiring people.
I want to thank everyone who has supported this charity, making it possible for CLIC Sargent to do what they do, and they certainly do amazing things.