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Romford cancer patient live tweets his experience of NHS from Queen’s Hospital

16:00 19 October 2016

Richard Orchard

Richard Orchard

NHS England

A cancer patient is the first in England to share his experience of the NHS on social media.

Richard OrchardRichard Orchard

Richard Orchard, 40, of South Street, Romford, is being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer – which affects cells that are part of the body’s immune system – at Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

He is also the first curator of the new NHS Twitter account.

The project, which started on Monday, aims to shed light on the health service through the voices of the people on its frontline.

A different NHS patient or one of its 1.3million staff will become curator of the account for a week over a three-month pilot scheme to report on their experiences of the health service.

Richard’s tweets are being promoted to Twitter’s 18 million users across the UK.

“It’s been an eventful time in my life being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with others for the week – with all its highs and lows,” said Richard.

“I hope some of my experiences will strike a chord with fellow cancer patients, to let them know they’re not alone in this,” he added.

Richard did not have any “expectations” before he started tweeting but he said he had received a lot of positive responses.

A keen cyclist, who likes going to the gym, Richard shared his experience of finding out he had cancer.

“I was told in the most lovely manner. That whole cancer diagnosis feels like a dream. Tragically a dream I’m not waking up from. Even after 12 weeks or so it seems unreal,” he wrote.

Richard believes there is a “taboo” around the word cancer and he hopes he can help people speak out about it.

“Looking on the bright side, is there anything good about having cancer? I am not sure I will ever be bothered by anything else again...,” he tweeted.

He told the Recorder: “I don’t particularly like saying it myself. I often say I have ‘lymphoma’ rather than cancer. It is a scary word. And, I guess it implies so many things.

“But we are lucky that treatments have come a long way, and the success rates are very high now and getting higher.”

A music lover and a fan of Marvel’ superheroes – SpiderMan being his favourite – Richard, who lived in Australia for 17 years, worked as the head of digital studio at Burrows, a company which builds applications and websites, before being diagnosed.

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