Staff nurse Michelle Milson has supported colleagues to openly talk about their health and wellbeing by talking at a Schwartz Round about her cancer journey.
Schwartz Rounds provide a forum where staff come together as a group to discuss the personal, emotional and social impact of working in healthcare.
Michelle decided to volunteer as a panelist and share her experiences to show colleagues that it is ok to feel vulnerable and that it is safe to speak out and ask for help when things are not going well, something she initially struggled with following her diagnosis.
Talking to others
She said: “I found out that I had stage four bowel cancer after only just qualifying as a nurse. Being told the only future I have is palliation honestly shattered me into a million pieces.
“Being a nurse people sometimes think you are all knowing and able to cope. But, my whole world fell apart in an instant and at times it felt that somehow this was lost in translation, maybe because there was a view that I may be able to cope and understand all the medical jargon.
“I decided to volunteer as a Schwartz Round panellist and share my own experiences as I wanted to foster a feeling that it is safe to speak out and ask for help when things aren’t going well.
“Being vulnerable is not only seen in patients. We as NHS workers feel this too and often feel under pressure to always wear a mask of being brave and strong for those we care for. But, it’s important to remember that underneath we are all human and face our own challenges.”
Following her Schwartz Round, ‘No Matter What, I Will Be Heard’, Michelle felt proud of herself for finding the strength to try and help others.
She added: “My cancer takes so much from me daily but I can’t let it take my voice, my passion for making nursing rewarding and telling people that it is ok to feel sad and struggle.
“Knowing that my words touched the audience and that they could relate to my journey in their own experiences made me feel really proud.
“I’m so grateful for this opportunity, the feedback after the event has truly meant so much to me, my family and everyone I care about.”
Any staff who would like to get involved in future rounds, either as a panellist or audience member, should visit the Schwartz Round service pages on the intranet or email [email protected].