A RUGBY player from Weymouth is calling for more people to talk openly about cancer.

Julian Quick, 28, the former captain of Weymouth RFC first XV, has helped create illustrations highlighting bizarre comments said to him after his diagnosis of a rare form of bone cancer. The memes show what people living with cancer want you to know about how not to ‘speak cancer’.

Julian, a keen sportsman from Weymouth, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma when he was 26. A University of Exeter sports science graduate, 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.

He wants to promote open and honest conversation and discourage people from 'dodging the topic'.

Julian said: “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."

Julian said: "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 illustrations with a range of awkward situations in which they have found themselves. They include comments such as 'It’s lucky you didn’t have one of those ‘proper’ cancers'.

Julian said: “Despite good intentions, even normal, everyday conversations about sport or nights out can be awkward and peppered by inappropriate comments about my cancer.

"Working to recover from my cancer is the main focus in my life at the moment, so I appreciate that striking up a conversation can sometimes be difficult for friends, family and colleagues who have never experienced it before and are keen to talk about work, relationships, holiday and sport."

He added: "People sometimes worry about what to say and so don’t say anything, whereas others try a more humorous approach, which could cause offence in the wrong situation.

"Trust me when I say that a frank, down-to-earth conversation is all that’s needed.”

An AXA PPP healthcare survey revealed 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.

Denise Dallender, a dedicated cancer nurse for AXA PPP healthcare, said: “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.

"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.”


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