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'My pet peeve was people telling me your hair will grow back' Romford 24-year-old takes part in new Macmillan campaign

PUBLISHED: 17:00 31 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:03 31 January 2019

Raveen Sethi was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma last year and is part of Macmillan's latest campaign “Whatever cancer throws your way, we’re right there with you.” Photo: Macmillan Cancer Research

Raveen Sethi was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma last year and is part of Macmillan's latest campaign "Whatever cancer throws your way, we're right there with you." Photo: Macmillan Cancer Research

Macmillan Cancer Research

A Romford 24-year-old who lost her hair during a battle with cancer is taking part in a new Macmillan campaign warning people euphemisms and misconceptions about cancer disempower those with the disease.

Raveen Sethi, is a trainee financial adviser and last year she was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma and says her pet peeve during her time with the disease was people telling her “your hair will grow back” because she says she didn’t choose to lose her hair.

Now in remission, Raveen, who has spent time at Queen’s Hospital learning about the support and advice the hospital offers for those that have survived cancer, is part of the charity’s new campaign “Whatever cancer throws your way, we’re right there with you.”

The campaign’s aim is bringing to life the devastating impact a cancer diagnosis has on all aspects of life, and highlighting the variety of ways it can support people throughout.

According to Raveen, and other patients, well-meaning euphemisms and simplistic clichés are leaving thousands of people with cancer feeling disempowered and isolated.

Raveen Sethi was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma last year and is part of Macmillan's latest campaign “Whatever cancer throws your way, we’re right there with you.” Photo: Macmillan Cancer Research
Raveen Sethi was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma last year and is part of Macmillan's latest campaign “Whatever cancer throws your way, we’re right there with you.” Photo: Macmillan Cancer Research

Raveen told the Recorder: “My pet peeve was people telling me ‘your hair will grow back’.

“I didn’t choose to lose my hair, so I found it unhelpful.

“I’m young, so social media is a big part of my life. I’ve just felt hugely insecure.

“My sister used to hide chunks of my hair to protect me.

“I did find I was isolating myself from my friends. I just wanted someone to talk and vent to. I actually started having panic attacks.

“It was only after I had finished treatment that people came up to me and told me ‘I did want to speak to you but didn’t know how’.

“It always felt like the elephant in the room.

“ Amidst losing all of my hair and therefore questioning my idenity, the irony was that in the end I came to find my true self.”

Macmillan, which receives around 70 visitors to its “Talking About Cancer” advice webpage every day, says new data shows no cancer experience is the same and highlights the importance of not making assumptions.

An eye-opening new survey of more than 2,000 people who have or have had cancer reveals the confusion and emotional turmoil caused by trying to find the “right” words for someone diagnosed with cancer and reveals the honest and divided views of patients themselves.

It shows that the people who have had a cancer diagnosis considered positive descriptions of themselves such as “hero” as unpopular as “cancer stricken” and “victim”. Respondents said words like these were inappropriate as they were disempowering (42%), isolating (24%) and put people under pressure to be positive (30%).

Karen Roberts, chief nursing officer at Macmillan said: “These results show just how divisive and “Marmite” simple words and descriptions can be.

“Cancer throws all kinds of things your way, and struggling to find the words, and the emotional turmoil caused when our friends and family don’t get it ‘right’ only makes lives feel even more upended.

“We know that there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ person with cancer, so it follows that people will prefer different ways of talking about it. We hear from people every day who face this problem, that at its worst could even stop people getting the support they need.

“By drawing attention to this we want to encourage more people to talk about the words they prefer to hear and stop the damage that can be caused to people’s wellbeing and relationships.

“Our support line, information services and Macmillan professionals are right there to make sure that everyone with cancer gets the support they need.”

For more information go to www.macmillan.org.uk/righttherewithyou

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