Monthly Archives: January 2014

Landmark Lecture at Bromley College, Orpington Campus

orpington campus

I was thrilled to be invited by the principal of Bromley College, Sam Parrett, to speak to their students about my experience with Huntington’s disease and to have a Question and Answer session on dying with dignity.

WP_002862Bromley College launched their Landmark Lecture programme on 18th October 2012 and I feel honored to have been invited to speak at the Orpington campus recently, on 30th January 2014.

Psychology lecturer, Stephen Elworthy gave a presentation on the origins of Huntington’s disease and showed a video of Nancy Wexler’s amazing work in Venezuela. Mrs Parrett then introduced me with what I can only describe as a ‘big up’! She praised me for my charity work, my treks and my book, which she has read and enjoyed. I must admit, I got quite emotional as I listened to her kind words about me.
WP_002852My lecture was well received and I managed to get through it without too much of a problem. I did get a bit choked up a couple of times and a student in the front row was very emotional too. Thankfully Mr Elworthy was on hand with the tissues! I almost managed to break the microphone as I forgot the battery pack was resting on the lectern. As I walked away from it to pick up a book, the pack flew off of its resting place and fell on the floor, splitting open and throwing the batterys across the room. Oh dear, and the whole lecture was being videoed.

We had a short break and returned for a Q & A on Dying with Dignity. I spoke about Lord Falconer’s assisted dying bill and explained whDeborah Goodman photo2 low resat it would and would not cover. Many of the concerns from the audience were about people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness who want to die before the illness gets too difficult for them to cope with. The questions were also about people who were no longer competent to make that choice for themselves. There seemed to be a strong view that these people should be allowed to end their lives.

I totally understand and agree with their concerns and Lord Falconer’s assisted dying bill does not cover this. But the bill is a step in the right direction and I hope and pray that the law is changed.

The assisted dying bill WOULD

  • Provide safeguarded choice and control to terminally ill adults and prevent prolonged suffering among these dying adults who want to have choice over how and when they die.
  • Ensure that terminally ill adults who have assistance to die do so having met clear pre-determined criteria and have explored all their alternatives; rather than as at present, in secret, when checks are only made after someone dies (as set out in the prosecuting policy on assisted suicide).

 The assisted dying bill WOULD NOT

  • Legalise assisted suicide for people who are not dying (for example disabled people or older people).
  • Legalise voluntary euthanasia where a doctor administers the life-ending medication. Under the Assisted Dying Bill the person choosing an assistance to die would take the final action to end their life, by taking a prescribed life-ending medication.
  • Legalise a system where the person being directly helped to die is no longer competent to make that choice for themselves. This Assisted Dying Bill would only apply to adults with mental capacity both at the time of their request and at the time of their death.

I am a member of Dignity in Dying, a national campaign and membership organisation with over 25,000 active supporters campaigning to legalise assisted dying, within upfront safeguards, for terminally ill, mentally competent adults.
Please join the campaign – go to

WP_002857The session ended with the signing of some books and a couple of photos for a press release. I was presented with the most gorgeous paperweight by the college as a mark of their gratitude, which I love and will display with pride. A couple of the students came up to me with a big hug to share, which was lovely, and two of the colleges professors (I think that’s what they call college teachers, or is it Lecturers?) congratulated me on my talk and suggested that they would like me to speak to their students, so watch this space, I hope to be invited back again 🙂

The college has purchased a few copies of my book, Hummingbird, for its library.

Hummingbird book is available on Amazon. Bromley college 2The college is writing a press release and below are comments from two of the students who are both studying on the Level 3 Health & Social Care course.

“Deborah’s story was eye opening, heart-warming and emotional – I hung on her every word! I want to work in nursing and I’ve learnt so much from Deborah today about Huntington’s Disease.” Siobhan
“It made me realise the ins and outs of Huntington’s Disease and how it is passed on through families. I hope to use this knowledge in my work placement with people with disabilities.” Jade



Fighting a winning war against cancer

Fighting a winning war against cancer

Two weeks ago I attended the funeral of my mums cousin, aunty Dod. At the funeral, I met with another cousin of my Mums and his wife, Janet. Eleven years ago Janet was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Yes, that’s right, I did say ELEVEN YEARS AGO! Meeting her two weeks ago she says she is on medication but honestly, she looked and sounded perfectly fine to me!

This is what Janet said about her cancer on a chat site in 2009.

‘2003 “I have bad news for you” were the words that introduced me to the world of cancer. I was expecting to be told I had a gallstone. I felt cheated in fact I felt like asking for my national insurance contributions back. The first scan read Pancreatic Cancer with multiple secondary: including numerous large tumours taking up most of the right lobe of my liver, and adrenal gland.
Breaking the bitter news was hard.
Further tests revealed I had a rare form of cancer called Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Cancer, with multiple secondaries to liver, both adrenal glands (one so large it was displacing my kidney) and in two lobes of my right lung including my windpipe.

At that time the World was a very lonely place, with no other person, with personal experience, to discuss the disease with.
On the day of diagnosis I declared war on cancer.
I told it “you have picked on the wrong girl this time, you think that am scared of you: you had better be scared of me. I will not come alone. I will bring with me all my love of this universe, this planet, its people, its animals, plants and the beauty of it. The strength and bonds of those who love me. I will find brilliant courageous doctors and surgeons. I will cut you out, poison you, nuke you, until every last one of you has been eradicated!”
That was my first threat and challenge to the disease.
Boy did I feel better.
Then I set about making this happen.
I changed my diet, prayed, meditated, exercised, read and investigated everything possible about this new and alien world of cancer.
I used my mind.
I used my imagination.
Many diverse metaphors and visualizations filled my head, they pushed out fear.
Fear is not good.
I saw cancer as a cowardly enemy hiding away in my body.
A thief stealing ones health, mobility, peace of mind and often those you love.
I detest cowards and do not like thieves much either!
One chapter in my book is tilted ‘ No Terms Of Engagement’.
In my war against cancer there is no Geneva Convention.
I would take no prisoners: that includes myself.’

Just goes to show is all I’m saying….

Time to Talk day – Thursday 6th February

Mental health problems might actually be more common than you think. One in four of us will be affected by mental illness in any year. That’s why starting a conversation about mental health is important. It helps people to know they’re not alone, it can strengthen relationships between friends, family and colleagues. And it starts to take the taboo out of something that affects us all.

Time to Change [LINK:], England’s biggest mental health anti-stigma programme, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, aims to get more people talking about mental health than ever before with their ‘Time to Talk Day’ on Thursday 6 February.

Time to Change’s latest advertising campaign aims to show that “It’s the little things which make a big difference” when it comes to mental health – such as having a cup of tea and a chat. And on Time to Talk Day they’re encouraging people to do just that.

I’m supporting Time to Talk Day, which aims to inspire a million conversations – to show that mental health problems are common and having those conversations needn’t be as hard as people sometimes fear.

Can you be part of it too?

Visit the website [LINK] to find out how you can order conversation starting tools (including Time to Talk teabags), follow Time to Change on social media and get inspiration from other organisations and individuals who will be taking part in the big conversation on 6 February.