In 2007 I was running my own business and flying all over the world with it. My children were growing up and finalising their education and my wife had recently retired. Our lifestyle was great and we had no financial worries at all.
Up to then, at the age of 51 I had perfect health, but within 6 months I had become a physical wreck. Finally, I went to the doctor, who did some very quick tests and sent me immediately to a specialist. My tonsils were removed and I returned to work feeling better.
However, I was invited to return to hospital after a couple of weeks where I was informed I had stage 4 Mantle Cell Lymphoma, a rare incurable blood cancer. If things didn’t go well I was given 6 months to live. I faced aggressive chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant.
Having survived both of those processes, I am grateful to be alive,
But my health is now unreliable and have endured many periods as an inpatient due to my treatment, making regular work an impossibility.
My life has changed dramatically in terms of lack of income and unreliable health. I now have to think about everything I do, as my body becomes weaker. In my work I was used to solving business problems, and my cancer experience was showing me how poorly supported patients were, after their treatment.
I felt that I needed to try and improve this for others
I was invited to share my views at a charity conference. This led me to be invited to do more and more but my health was making that difficult. To increase my reach my friends started me a website, and I started to learn about social media.
I wasn’t sure at first as this was entering a totally unknown area, readership expanded quickly, and I started winning awards for my work.
Publicity increased and I was invited to speak at more conferences.
This gave me the work focus I craved whilst being able to deal with my own health. Through my health issues I was able to continue getting the word out there, and now my site has become an international resource read by patients and clinicians around the world.
My social media presence has also grown and I am now one of the biggest ‘influencers’ in the cancer sector in this country. This has led to me being a co-founder of ‘Your simPal’ registered charity, helping people affected by cancer, with the cost of keeping of keeping in touch by mobile devices. We support people and organisations across the country.
The demand for my speaking services is increasing rapidly
It is helping to improve cancer support services across the world. People affected by cancer now have a platform and voice to become heard throughout this very corporate world.
I am delighted to be able to give something back from my own experiences, and can help others face the things I have dealt with myself.
My own case has become a beacon for others, the fact that it may be possible to make something positive from a very negative situation.
Chris Lewis FRSA, founder of ‘Chris’s Cancer Community,’ and co-founder of ‘Your simPal.’
Chris is a long term cancer patient who has seen the many gaps in cancer support for survivors. His own experiences have led him to be a ‘disruptor,’ with his outspoken style of public speaking and regular postings to his website.
His work has won him many awards and has led to him being one of the major patient influencers within the cancer sector. Chris is known across the globe for his innovative approach to cancer survivorship, and his efforts to improve communication in the sector.