We Get It at Walcot House

On the 29th of November we gathered at the fantastic Walcot House for our first official We Get It event.

We were thrilled to welcome the inspirational Deborah James, aka Bowel Babe, to talk about her book F*** You Cancer: How to face the big C, live your life and still be yourself. Deborah was joined on the panel by Laura Phillips and Sarah Baker from We Get It and John Hill from Bath-based charity Reason. Our compère for the night was the amazing Lizzie Heffer from Thrings.

Our four speakers have all been personally affected by cancer (bowel, lymphoma, sarcoma and prostate) and were keen to speak openly about their experiences. Also in attendance were a great bunch of guests, including representatives from Penny Brohn in Bristol, free counselling service We Hear You and Dorothy House Hospice Care, as well as lots of local people, all affected by cancer in some way.

Redefining how we talk about cancer

Our panel covered so many points over the course of the evening, we’d struggle to fit them all in here. We’ve rounded up a few of them below:

The numbness of diagnosis.

Balancing the fears and well-meaning contributions of friends and family.

The highs and lows of treatment, from the routines and guidance of the medical journey to the bewilderment and loneliness of the mental side.

Differing coping strategies, from endless destressing walks to comic relief.

The benefits and frustrations of social media, where sharing your story can bring on a tidal wave of support (and also feed the occasional troll).

Scan anxiety, bonkers medical side effects at 3am, and not quite knowing how to carry on day to day in what Deborah calls “the new normal”.

A need to shed the awkwardness around discussing certain symptoms and a real urge to change how we talk about cancer in general.

Starting the conversation: Q&A with our audience 

Absolutely key to the success of the evening were the insightful questions from our audience members – you know who you are! Topics included changing perspectives on death, how to talk (and not to talk) to someone undergoing treatment, dealing with sex and relationships, making support and services more welcoming to men, and how to approach future employers when you have treatment gaps on your CV.

And what if you’re not like Deborah, confidently dancing your way around your local village in a poo costume? There’s no one way you’re expected to act when you have or are recovering from cancer. Organisations like We Get It want you to know that, however you’re coping, your experience is valid – and the door is open.

Further reading, listening, plus a huge thank you from us

After the Q&A, Deborah took time to chat to guests and signed copies of her excellent book (we’re loving the practical tips, the contributions from Deborah’s children and the wine tales). If you missed the event, don’t worry – you can pick up a copy here.

Deborah also co-hosts the excellent You, Me and the Big C podcast. If you haven’t already, tune in here.

During the evening, John shared a story about a piece of music he found particularly moving during an uncomfortable night. Have a listen.

We’d like to say a massive thank you to Toppings Bath, Bath Boutique Stays, Roy Newport Photography, Rednine and the We Get It Team. Thank you to all local providers who contributed to our We Get It goodie bags - Limelight Bath, Hanora Health, Castle Farm, Lillywhite Health & Fitness, Jo Bridger Nutrition, Infinite Wellbeing, Hifas da Terra, Forever Living Aloe Vera and Scentered.

A special thank you to Walcot House for hosting us and footing our bar bill.

And lastly, thanks to everyone who attended and made our first event so special. We’ll update our Events page with details of the next one soon.

EventsLaura Phillips