Julian, a keen sportsman from Weymouth, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma when he was 26. A University of Exeter sports science graduate and captain of his local rugby team, his cancer was diagnosed in 2014 after having an MRI scan for shoulder pain he suspected was due to a rugby injury. But it turned out to be a tumour. Julian has since been undergoing chemotherapy – and has noticed a change in the way some people speak to him.
Julian comments: “Many people think that speaking to someone living with cancer will be difficult or awkward and therefore either try to avoid the subject or offer overly-dramatic ‘fighting talk’ encouragement. While my friends and family have been incredibly supportive in various different ways, some initially responded to the news of my diagnosis with silence and discomfort, and by sharing some of the stranger comments I have received, I want to help change people’s perspectives so others in my situation aren’t faced with unhelpful reactions. There’s definitely a stigma associated with talking about cancer, and when people say something they later regret, it’s often because they are trying so hard to avoid stepping on eggshells, they trip themselves up in the process. I’m hoping that by sharing my experiences, I can encourage people to try to speak more openly about cancer.”
To help spread the word, Julian has been working with AXA PPP healthcare’s Dedicated Cancer Nurses and others living with cancer to create vintage-style memes that illustrate a range of awkward situations in which they have found themselves. They include comments such as
AXA PPP healthcare’s research of people who have or have had cancer and returned to work* backs up Julian’s call for tackling the stigma around talking about cancer. When asked how they preferred people to talk to them about their cancer outside work, 44 per cent of those who have or have had cancer and returned to work say they’d prefer people to be frank and open about it. Twenty-two per cent say they’d like people to be empathetic and sensitive to their feelings. But in practice only 42 per cent of respondents say that people try to be frank and open when they talk to them about their cancer.
Denise Dallender, a Dedicated Cancer Nurse for AXA PPP healthcare, comments: “Talking about cancer with loved ones affected by the disease can be hard but avoiding talking about what they’re going through can leave them feeling isolated or unsupported. Everyone’s experience of living with cancer is different so it’s not surprising that many of them don’t want to hear that ‘someone I know had that’ or that they don’t feel comforted or boosted by fighting talk. Instead, just ask them how they are and encourage them to open up – they’re still the same person they were before being diagnosed with cancer.”
Julian’s experience has also inspired the healthcare company to publish a new guide called ‘Let’s Speak Cancer’ which offers practical tips to those with cancer on how to talk about it. To read or download it visit www.axappphealthcare.co.uk/speakcancer and join the conversation using #LetsSpeakCancer.
*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from OnePoll. Total sample size was 500 adults who suffer/have suffered with cancer and returned to work. Fieldwork was undertaken in September 2016.
About AXA PPP healthcare
AXA PPP healthcare – one of the largest and most experienced private medical insurance providers in the UK – has been helping people to access healthcare services since 1940. Today it forms the UK healthcare arm of AXA and provides cover for medical and dental care for individuals and employers, and employee wellbeing, counselling, occupational health and rehabilitation services through its specialist Health Services division.
AXA PPP healthcare has been named the Best Healthcare Provider for three years running in the Your Money Awards and, in June 2015, was awarded the prestigious accolade of European Large Contact Centre of the Year at the 2015 European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards, followed in September 2015 by the Best Customer Experience accolade in the Large Contact Centre category of the UK Customer Experience Awards 2015.
The AXA Group is a worldwide leader in insurance and asset management, with 157,000 employees serving 103 million clients in 59 countries. In 2014, IFRS revenues amounted to Euro 92.0 billion and IFRS underlying earnings to Euro 5.1 billion. AXA had Euro 1,277 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2014. In 2014 Interbrand ranked AXA the 1st insurance brand worldwide for the 6th consecutive year.
In the UK AXA operates through a number of business units including: AXA Wealth, AXA Commercial Lines and Personal Intermediary, AXA Personal Direct and Partnerships, AXA PPP healthcare, AXA Ireland and an independent distribution business Bluefin. AXA employs over 10,500 staff in the UK.
The AXA ordinary share is listed on compartment A of Euronext Paris under the ticker symbol CS (ISN FR 0000120628 – Bloomberg: CS FP – Reuters: AXAF.PA). AXA’s American Depository Share is also quoted on the OTC QX platform under the ticker symbol AXAHY.
The AXA Group is included in the main international SRI indexes, such as Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and FTSE4GOOD.
It is a founding member of the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Sustainable Insurance and a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.