I am a patient spokesperson for Bowel Cancer UK and this week I was invited to a private research event in London.

In attendance was the renowned architect Lord Norman Foster who is the patron of the charity as a bowel cancer survivor himself.

He gave a moving speech about how early detection and dispelling stigma in talking about bodily functions can help reduce the impact of the disease. Bowel cancer is the forth most common cancer and around 41,000 new cases are diagnosed every year in the UK alone so it is essential we talk about it’s symptoms and improve screening.

One particular line of his speech has stayed with me – a cancer diagnosis means you become a citizen of another universe. This is entirely true but it’s not one you have ever actively hankered after journeying to.

As a citizen of this unknown world, my way of coping is to get to know the new neighbours. At the Bowel Cancer UK event, I met the most staggering group of people whose passion, determination and grit I am in total awe of.

These people are reaching out, speaking up and using their voices for others when they are facing unspeakable uncertainty in their own lives.

I’m learning every day that people have their own way of reacting to tough situations and how they deal with them; to see how these people live with such grace in adversity gives me the energy to keep speaking up for this cause, even when it’s tough and I want to hide away.

While a lot of unwanted debris has flown into our world, we are lucky that the real kinship with these people makes the journey less lonely. What was especially heart warming was the amount of laughing that happened. Humour, even in it’s blackest form, is a wonderful tonic on a dark night.

I am in particular awe of the charity’s CEO Deborah Alsina. She is an incredible mix of serious authority about her cause while maintaining a deeply human quality.

Even though her workload is immeasurable, she sends me messages on scan days, makes sure to ask how the girls are and has become a dear friend.

Her energy is an inspiration and I’m more than a little bit in love with her.

Our new neighbours are noisy but we are lucky that they are shouting about all the right things.

- Stacey Heale has put her career as a fashion lecturer on hold to focus on her two lively little girls and fiancé, Delays frontman Greg Gilbert, who was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in November 2016. She launched the viral campaign Give4Greg to raise funds for lifesaving treatment: gofundme.com/give4greg.

Read more at her blog beneaththeweather.com