Working with the students

Friday, 16 August 2019

Simon Mace 5

Simon explains what it has been like to work with the students at Oxford Brookes University


Being in the gym with students was a new experience for me.


At first I felt very self-conscious – I was surrounded by people with high levels of fitness and with in-shape bodies, so it was a challenge for me to be within the gym environment with reduced mobility and a walking stick.


That said, being first introduced to students within the gym who were working on “exercise after cancer” modules, I soon became aware that they were actually looking up to me as a real person with real physical challenges resulting from spinal damage with cancer, and that my hunger for exercise was very real. 


It can be scary for people when you start to use terms like cancer, mobility issues, or paralysis. These things that have affected my life were being taken very seriously by the students and I treated it as a privilege and an honour to be able to be part of their learning process. I did my best to make sure they could ask me anything they wanted to and not to be nervous about addressing my circumstances. 


Once I’d worked with the students a few times I began to really enjoy the experience - both giving them the confidence to learn from my situation, and for me to have the pleasure of giving something back to society after my cancer battle.


Providing a guest lecture was amazing. It was the first time I’ve spoken in public and with no professional experience. I spoke freely with no planning, and just told my story from beginning to end. Looking around the lecture room, and seeing so many students really focused on my story was overwhelming and a real privilege. After doing a second lecture I actually became quite confident!


These experiences have influenced my recovery because it gives me a sense of purpose and of course the opportunity to exercise.


My experience with Oxford Brookes following my eight year battle with cancer has given me a purpose by being able to pass my experience on to the next generation of professionals going out into the workplace. It has motivated me to continue volunteering and it’s something that to continue for the foreseeable future. I hope one day that it will lead to a long term position.


My journey through cancer and recovery has to be for a purpose.