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Robyn's Blog: News from Maggie's online centre head

by Robyn

News about the online centre and other cancer related topics
09 October 2017 at 11:59

What's in a word?

I posted this blog a while back but came across it  and thought worth revising  as it struck a chord with many online visitors previously .....

There is a saying that a hundred mile journey starts with a single step I would also say that every  conversation starts with a single word and it is amazing where it can lead…..

I was ( as is often the case) on a train the other day.  Those of you familiar with commuter trains will be aware they are largely silent with the exception of  an “is this seat free?”  and the occasional  overloud phone conversation….

Every now and then however someone will join the train who is blissfully unaware of “the rules”  and this is what I witnessed the other day:

A man joined the train and sat at the last seat available on a 4 person table seat. The other passengers were already seated .   (A teenager   apparently texting, a business woman and a man watching a film on a table) .didn’t acknowledge him and for a few minutes they sat in customary silence.

 After a few minutes the teenager looked flustered put her phone down and started looking through her bag she then appeared upset .  The man asked her if she was ok  and she said her phone had run out of battery and she had forgotten her charger – the man then asked the woman opposite ( who had  not appeared to hear the conversation)  if she had one as  her phone was the same she then produced a charger for the teenager to use.  The teen then said she was writing her application for medical school at which point the man said he was a recently retired surgeon and would she like some help which led to a long discussion.  During the conversation he mentioned a trial he had worked on – which  the business woman heard and then said was related to the work  she was currently doing ( which wouldn’t have happened without the Dr’s trial)   After talking about it for a while the Dr and the business woman started a more social conversation it became clear they had some mutual friends.  Then the Dr mentioned he was from a small welsh village.  At this point the younger man who had been silent said he had also grown up there  and was now on his way there this led to a lively discussion about many shared  experiences.

By the time I left the train an hour later the teenager had some work experience offered to support her application to medical school as well as a load of advice for her interview, the business woman had some back ground to the work she was currently doing, the younger man had found out more about the history of his village.  As for the Dr he had a big smile on his face, as if he felt he had been able to pass something on  and had made what could have been a very dull journey  much more interesting.

It occurred to me that this is also what happens here at the Online Centre – by saying hello and sharing experiences in the blogs and conversations with other members you can stumble upon helpful advice or some friendly words from someone you may have thought you had no connection with.

It can be hard to take that first step – to say hello,  to write how things are just now, but sometimes as with the train journey,  from a simple question or just someone seeing what is happening (  the teenager didn’t ask for help , remember it was the Dr seeing her looking upset) support  and understanding can follow.


There are of course also others ( like me on the train) who may listen/watch  but don’t get involved but don’t underestimate the effect on those people.

Sue “susieq”  and I get many  private messages from   people affected by cancer who join the Online Centre because  a  conversation post or blog they have read from another members has struck a chord and  helped them to take the step of registering and letting someone know  how cancer has affected them and the people close to them.

Someone may also read  and not register but perhaps they will understand more about their own situation, they may see a  Dr sooner, know more about  treatment or support available and feel more able to ask for help, or perhaps just know  that how they are feeling just now is “normal”  or understandable  in their situation.

So if you have been thinking about posting  a conversation or starting a blog – give it a go  and say hello  to someone…

For anyone reading this  and other posts on the Online Centre who hasn’t registered  or perhaps you  haven’t visited for  a while and aren’t sure  how to get involved you are very welcome to register  and to get in touch privately with our professional online team  or to take that step and share with other members too.

As for me on the train – I sat there quietly not appearing to listen as I am sure others on the train also did   and the passengers at the table were probably completely unaware  of our interest, however  having seen what  happened  I have  since started a couple of conversations on the train myself –  with surprising results… but that’s another story


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