The older I get, the less I know.
Socrates is quoted as saying, "I know that I know nothing." And that's how I feel. Only, I'm not one of - if not the - father of wisdom. I'm just a 30 year old who feels as clueless as Alicia Silverstone in a bubblegum pink dress.
Things used to be very different though. I asked my mother not so long ago what I was like as a child. "Assertive," she said, and a family friend agreed. "Assertive, definitely. You knew what you wanted and what you didn't want."
How things have changed. How was I so sure of myself when I was two, and 28 years later it's the hardest thing in the world for me to 'back myself'? You know, assert my beliefs, my view, to have the courage of my convictions.
I don't think I'm the only one. We're conditioned by society not to cause a fuss, particularly when it comes to health. As Brits, we're told growing up that all sorts of physical discomfort is 'growing pains' and politeness is eating food prepared for you even if it doesn't agree with you; later on in life, sick days from work are frowned upon, succumbing to illness being a sign of weakness or an excuse for laziness; we're told day in day out to "man up", "get a grip" and "drink a pint of concrete - harden up".
So it's tough when you have a problem to reach out and seek help. You think, 'perhaps they're right' and 'I'm just being silly'. When you do finally get to a GP or some other qualified professional, you expect them to have the answers. After all, you don't. You didn't go to medical school.
But when the trained professionals don't have the answers, how do you have the courage to turn around and say, "no, I'm sorry, there's something wrong and we need to try something else to find out what"?
Emmy Collett is 30. She was in the year above me at school and, when I bothered to turn up, we crossed paths at netball practice. Thanks to Facebook, we're still in touch, and so I saw her update a few weeks ago informing her network that her body was riddled with cancer, which was now incurable and she'd be undergoing chemotherapy for the rest of her life, however long that may be.
How awful, you're thinking. Yes, if only it had been discovered sooner.
Emmy went to the doctor on multiple occasions with symptoms, knowing that something wasn't right, but she was never taken seriously. She's now using her experience to raise awareness of the symptoms she had that went undiagnosed, and to encourage people to have the confidence to back themselves when they know something's wrong. In her words...
The reason I am so passionate about raising awareness, is due to all of the trials and tribulations I encountered prior to being given the diagnosis. I find it quite scary how long I had lived with it completely unaware and being made to feel like I was going totally bonkers!! If only I could have caught it earlier, things could be very different now. ... I so desperately want to highlight how important it is to never give up. Believe in yourself and have the confidence to pursue your case when you know something isn't right.
Her and her childhood sweetheart, Jake, who was also at my school, are cycling 2,000km in June to raise money for the Royal Marsden Hospital, whilst undergoing treatment.
An extraordinary woman, please share her story and help raise funds for research into treatment that didn't exist 5 years ago but is now the only treatment available to Emmy.
Emmy, once famous for her gravity-defying eyelashes, is now becoming known for her other qualities: courage, resilience, strength, gratitude, determination, wholeheartedness and joy.