Giving something back 20 years after cancer diagnosis
Chris Salmen, 36, Lead Education and Training Pharmacist, talks about how his experiences with cancer shaped him
the number of years Chris has worked at The Royal Marsden
Marking the 20-year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis was important to me because I really believe the experience shaped the person I am today. Not only did it inspire my career, I also developed an interest in fitness and a love of travelling.
It sounds clichéd but you really do see the world in a different way when your health is compromised. Cycling 930 miles in 12 days from Portsmouth to St Tropez to raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity seemed like a fitting challenge. I was 16 years old when I was told I had non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
For six months as an inpatient, I passed the time looking at photography books of the world, holding on to the thought that one day I would see these places for real. I became fascinated about the drugs going into my body and the complex mixes of chemotherapy to treat the disease, and medication to treat the complications of the chemotherapy. I knew then I wanted to work in oncology.
I eventually trained as a pharmacist and started working at The Royal Marsden 12 years ago. I regard myself as very lucky to work for the NHS, and The Royal Marsden is the best there is. It is a privilege to help people who are in the same position I was in.
My role as a clinical and education and training pharmacist means I get to take part in the multidisciplinary teams; I work in clinics, do ward rounds and talk to lots of patients as well as help ensure that our pharmacy team is trained to the highest standards. My passion for cycling came a few years after my treatment. My fitness in my early twenties was pretty atrocious. My body had been through so much during treatment and I found cycling very meditative.
I regard myself as very lucky to work for the NHS, and The Royal Marsden is the best there is. It is a privilege to help people who are in the same position I was in
How far Chris cycled in 12 days to raise money for our charity
Cycling through the Loire Valley with my colleague Simon Matthews was an incredible way to mark the 20 years. I felt so grateful to have my health and career and experience this beautiful scenery first-hand. I remember how comforting it was to hear that someone had received treatment and had recovered, so I hope that my ride makes someone in the same position as I was feel a little better about the future.
Jatinder Harchowal, Chief Pharmacist, says: “Chris’s caring approach is partly due to his own experience, but is also an indication of how much he values helping others. Chris will bend over backwards to help anyone in need.
“When he completed his bike ride to St Tropez, he raised over £1,400 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. He also inspired fellow pharmacist Simon Matthews to complete the ride, providing him with mechanical and emotional support – as illustrated by Chris repairing Simon’s bike at 2am alongside a deserted canal!
“Chris has a passion for photography and is one of the main photographers for The Marsden March and for those who run the London Marathon for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.”