Gill Stannard is a naturopath and mentor, with thirty years experience helping people, like you, feel better.Gill works primarily online, with naturopathic and mentoring clients around the country and worldwide.
What motivated you to become a consumer representative?
It’s the best use for my ‘survivor guilt’ (ovarian cancer has a 46% 5 year survival) and a good way to combine my health science background with my lived experience.
What research projects have you been involved with?
I work primarily with 5 ovarian cancer researchers. In 2020, I was named as a Chief Investigator on Nikola Bowden’s successful MRFF grant repurposing drugs for treatment resistant ovarian cancer.
How have you been involved with cancer researchers?
A lot of grant applications! Also, lab visits, discussions about concepts and future research ideas.
What do you enjoy the most about being involved with a research project?
Representing the ‘end user’, those impacted by the research. And hopefully being a small part of a team that creates better outcomes for this cancer.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced as a consumer rep?
Communication with researchers can be variable. I’m lucky that most of mine are articulate, inclusive, genuinely interested in my input and are delightful people. But I had one researcher totally drop off the radar once they’d got what they needed for their grant application, which was disappointing.
How have you been able to help your researcher with their project?
One researcher was particularly interested in what it was like to experience chemotherapy. We had a very engaged discussion about this and it changed the way they framed a section of their grant. Bringing a consumer perspective to grants and subsequent research is always important. I have shared information about recruitment for, and outcomes from, studies on social media and in my networks. Another researcher says I sit on their shoulder to remind them of why they do this work.
What do you know now that you would like to have known at the beginning of your involvement with researchers?
Since starting out as a consumer in 2018, I’ve learned a lot about how to give effective feedback to researchers. While the basic training gave an overview of the concept, being part of the Translational Cancer Research Network (TCRN) Consumer Advisory Panel (CAP) and learning from experienced panellists like Kathryn Leaney, has really honed my skills.
If you could say one thing to a new consumer representatives, what would it be?
Don’t be intimidated, researchers value your unique perspective.
A final word ……
Being a consumer has enriched my life in ways that I could never have anticipated. I like the challenge of a steep learning curve! Most survivors and carers haven’t heard of consumers in research. It would be good if there were stories in mainstream media, to help us recruit a more diverse pool of consumers.