Andrea Ruano is a Junior Creative at the Havas Lynx Group. Back in May, Andrea went to a workshop ‘The fundamentals of EU Policy Making’ organised by Youth Cancer Europe (YCE). In this blog, Andrea shares with us her experience of being part of the workshop, along with the importance of Youth Cancer Europe.

Hello, my name is Andrea Ruano and I am a new Junior Creative at the Havas Lynx Group. I am loud, I am Spanish, and also, I am a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed 11 years ago, and fortunately, I’ve been cancer free for the last 10 years. However, I’ve been dealing with collateral effects of the illness ever since: mostly with the tibia – the bone – hasn’t been very cooperative with me (the last X-Ray shows it’s now properly healing, so fingers crossed to that). But anyway, this post is not about me. So, let’s move on.

Just before starting work at Lynx, I was invited to a workshop titled ‘The fundamentals of EU Policy Making’ organised by Youth Cancer Europe (YCE), an association I’ve been collaborating with since 2014. The association was created after the realisation that, despite there being many cancer associations throughout Europe, there was nothing specifically youth driven, youth inspired and youth oriented. That’s why the YCE was born: as a bridge between child and adult cancer patients, across all tumour types, and one that speaks the language of teenagers and young adults.

The training took place in Brussels around the European Parliament from the 20th – 24th of May, and I have been invited to talk about my experience in this blog.

YCE invited survivors from 15 European countries, including both current and prospective EU member states. This meant that there was a broad variety of opinions and experiences related to cancer: ranging from Bradley and Jeremy from the UK, to Milos from Serbia. I’ve also had the chance to see survivors I had met in other occasions, but I’ve also met other survivors, like Emmi, a Finnish girl with whom I shared a room. She’s been through IO treatments, and she can’t be considered a survivor yet, but still an amazing fighter.

These four days were an intensive immersion into how European health politics works. The workshop included visits to the European Parliament to learn from lobbyists regarding health issues, speaking to the former Minister of Health for Georgia, and meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce. In her meeting, Kajsa Wilhemsson who leads the European Health & Policy Market Access said something I found quite interesting, ‘the fact that you’re all cancer survivors doesn’t mean you’re talking about health all the time’. This is true statement, since most of us have to go back to ‘real life’ after cancer, and we have to figure out what the ‘new normal’ looks like.

After all of the meetings, on the last day we had a reunion where we discussed the white paper that’s going to be presented to the Parliament in October; and the final main points that’s going to include are: Fertility Preservation, Cross-Border Health Care, Mental Health (Onco-psychology care), Non-Discrimination, and Dental Care and Facial Reconstruction. So, until October, YCE is going to work to obtain data, ask the good questions and develop the issues in a way that allows us to take another step in improving cancer patients and cancer survivors’ lives. And after all this work, I was assigned as the graphic designer in charge of making the white paper look good, so I am really looking forward to it. This will be an excellent opportunity for me to pitch in and help build it.

In conclusion, this experience has been an incredible opportunity to learn a lot about politics, to meet new people, and to realise how much work still needs to be done in many aspects of cancer. Also, even though I’ve been healthy for a long time, it’s always powerful to meet up with people that have been through a situation very similar to yours. In the end, we all have the same questions and fears, the same ideas, the same will to fight, to have fun and keep on doing what we do best – to live.

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