Newspaper article - should I be interviewed?

I have just been contacted indirectly about appearing in a newspaper feature in a local paper. I have mixed feelings about whether or not to do it and would welcome some feedback.

Two years ago I appeared in an article in ‘Essentials’ magazine about overcoming breast cancer. In this particular article I was portraying myself as ‘moving on’ and very confident that my breast cancer experience was behind me. I had just completed the a 5K run, got much fitter and had lost 7 kilos and felt great. The local paper has contacted ‘the charity’, looking for people who have positively overcome BC. They have contacted me asking whether they can forward my contact details, to run an article on inspirational women to correspond with October!

If this was just me 2 years on I would go for it, however since being diagnosed with secondaries my story does not have quite the same ‘happily ever after ending’ I very much hoped it would a couple of years ago.
My conflicting feelings are:

Against – I realise the importance of people, when diagnosed with primary cancer, hearing positive stories of hope. I don’t want to disillusion people who want to believe in a future recovery for themselves and close family members.

I also don’t know how much I should expose of myself to people, who I don’t know, who may recognise me, in this category I include friends of my son. (although I feel that he has openly shared information with others.) This year I began a new job as a teacher, with parents who don’t know of my previous BC history. Whereas most will be sympathetic to my ordeal, I don’t want people to judge me or treat me any different than anybody else, or have doubts about whether I will always be there for their child.

On the other hand I think that secondary cancer is grossly under represented in the press. Perhaps I could put this straight and make more people aware of what traumas many of us face. I look completely normal (in my opinion :o) anyway ). I smile as often as anybody else, work hard and get on with my life, yet I have an uncertain future. Nobody looking from the outside can understand what dark thoughts overwhelm us at times. I realise that BCC are attempting to increase awareness of secondary cancer, perhaps I should take this opportunity too.

I am also aware that if I do go with it, I need to represent secondaries accurately. I am at the beginning of my secondary diagnosis and still able to get on with life, as I have very little SE’s, I realise that everybody is different and I wouldn’t want to trivialise somebody elses’s more difficult experiences.

It may be hypothetical anyway as the paper may decide that they don’t want to interview somebody with a ‘secondaries’ experience. I would welcome some opinions either way,

Thanks Nicola xx

Oh Nicola, I see your dilemma and understand your mixed feelings. I suppose you have to weigh up the alternatives:

Will this interview/article help others?
How much damage could this do to my family or career?
Will doing this interview help ME to come to terms with what is happening?

Hundreds of years ago when I was young I did a TV interview about single parenthood. The journalists ran rings around me and asked very embarrassing questions, so I was subsequently VERY suspicious. Perhaps I was unfortunate, but should you decide to go ahead with this, I would strongly recommend you demand some editorial control.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

Hi Nicola
Its sounds like a tricky one- I think you are right, secondary cancer is misrepresented- but I agree with the previous post that the tough part is weighing up that with the impact the article might have on your life.

The type of piece and the tone of the newspaper would be important for me as well-I would want to know if it’s coverage of health issues is usually balanced and informative or sensationalised/mis-informed? And as has been said I’d definitely want a conditional agreement to hold back consent until seeing the final article.

Coincidentally I was also asked to appear in a magazine piece about BC recently. I decided not to do it for a few reasons. One of those was that like you I am a teacher, and have young kids at another local school, and I felt that the piece could be quite exposing. I found the lack of some of my privacy hard when I had treatment, so I knew the type of piece wouldn’t be right for me at this point.

All the very best with reaching your decision.

Hi Nicola- yes. this is a tricky one.
Do you think there is any way the paper would agree to feature you in an article without showing your photo or giving your family details? That way you could say much of what you have said so eloquently in your posting - which would be telling it how it is and disabusing some people of the idea that BC is “cured” after treatment - but also explaining & highlighting the issue of ‘secondaries’ - about which there is so much mis-information and ignorance.
Maybe the paper wouldn’t agree to that? Depending on the type of publication it is, I guess it might be the ‘personal’ aspect of the story that they would most want to feature - ie the 'human interest ’ aspect that sells papers?
I do agree that you might be exposing your family and pupils/their parents etc to rather more personal info that you would want them to have - unless you can have some firm assurances from the publication re your privacy.


Thank you for your responses.

I have finally reached a decision and am going to go ahead with the article to raise the awareness of secondaries. I spoke to the journalist who will be interviewing me and writing the article. She is writing an article in the features section of our local paper and sounded very sincere and willing to go with the direction I want to take. I hope to view the article before publication. I have looked at other articles in our local paper and they are far from sensationalised, more a stating of the facts with a significant proportion of direct quotes.

I do feel quite strongly that people do not have enough awareness of secondaries and need to be reminded that 12,000 people a year still die of breast cancer! It is too often portrayed in the media as being curable thanks to medical advances and if it isn’t curable it’s somehow our fault!

My son is keen for me to do the article and my husband has no firm opinion, but when i reasoned that I may not want parents from school knowing he informed me that quite a few do already and so what if they do find out? I am not a particularly private person anyway and share most of my experiences with a wide circle of friends.

I do need to consider the message I need to get across, as the last thing I want to do, is worry people who have just been diagnosed (or their families)yet it is such an important opportunity to get across what it is like to live with a secondary diagnosis. If anybody has anything they think I should (or should not portray!) I’d really appreciate their input. The interview is planned for next Monday morning.

Thank you

Nicola xx

Hi Nicky,
Glad you came to a decision that works for you. The paper sounds really responsible. Just wanted to wish you all the best for Monday.
C x

Hi Nicola

I did a similar interview last year for The Sun so thought i’d post the link for you below in case helpful (please ignore the horrendous photo!). I had similar reservations on the impact the published interview would have on my family. Thankfully the journalist - although shocked as she hadnt been told i had secondaries by the charity who put me forward - handled my story sensitively and gave me the opportunity to show that there are young women out there living with secondaries. The piece isn’t exactly in depth but I think it was worth doing. Good luck with the interview, I hope you find it a positive experience.


Glad you arrived at the right decision for you.
I’m sorry you have had to agonise about it but I think anyone with primary cancer, like myself has to be realistic about the future.
You won’t frighten anyone who is enlightened and if your article encourages anyone to go to Dr or book a mammogram that will be fantastic.
I admire your courage to do this and wish you all the best for next Monday. I’m sure it will help lots of women and more of society to recognise that not all BC is curable.
A very sad realisation for so many brave women on this site.

All the best, Welsh girl.