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Chatham MP Tracey Crouch plans to give cancer and Twitter the boot

Tracey Crouch hopes to wave goodbye to breast cancer after her treatment finishes next month, but the Chatham and Aylesford MP is also looking forward to banishing another negative influence - Twitter.

The former sports minister spoke to the Medway Messenger about the challenges of life and work during the pandemic, and said she was planning to leave the social media platform once her treatment was over.

MP Tracey Crouch relaxing at home after cancer treatment
MP Tracey Crouch relaxing at home after cancer treatment

Tracey was diagnosed back in June and while her own treatment has prompted her to live life to the full, she believes the pandemic has brought the importance of mental wellbeing into sharp relief for many.

"One of the issues facing us more now is our own wellbeing," she said. "We've all got a responsibility to recognise our own wellbeing, and recognise the things we don't need in life. I don't need the constant negativity of Twitter.

"I think social media is a great forum to communicate with constituents but I've found recently Twitter has become the most negative of platforms."

She explained she planned to stay on Twitter for a few more weeks to help document her treatment, raising awareness of disease and the work of the NHS - and to keep track of news on Spurs and other sports of course.

"I don't want to be defined as the MP who had cancer I do think it's extremely important to use the platform to tell people about it," she said. "There's a positive side to social media but I might come off after the treatment."

With her last chemotherapy session tomorrow, Tracey will have some radiotherapy next month, and said the treatment had gone "really well."

And she explained the simultaneous pandemic had not impacted on her treatment, or on her ability to cope with the diagnosis.

"Thankfully our cancer service has continued throughout and Maidstone Hospital has been proud that it's been able to meet its targets despite the pandemic.

"It was in June that I was diagnosed, so we weren't in lockdown but obviously it doesn't matter when you're diagnosed. It doesn't matter if you're in a pandemic or not, a diagnosis of cancer is what it is.

"I'm quite a pragmatic and practical person so I just submitted myself to the experts and they've told me what to do."

Maidstone Hospital
Maidstone Hospital

"I've been at home since June and I've continued to work from home throughout," she added. "We're all under the strict lockdown guidance and I continue to respond to emails from constituents, the only difference in terms of service as such as an MP has been not being able to do constituency visits, but that's not to do with cancer, that's to do with lockdown."

Nevertheless, she said having cancer treatment in the middle of a pandemic brought extra anxiety over coronavirus, as had the recent rise in cases attributed to the new virus strain.

"I'm privileged to get regular updates from Medway and Maidstone Hospital, so I've been much more aware of the volume of patients in our local hospitals and of the ferocity of the virus," said Tracey.

"I think when you are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable it becomes a lot more scary knowing if I was to get the virus I would probably end up in hospital due to my immunity.

"But at the end of the day life still continues when you've got cancer so you want to live as much as you can. I just forget sometimes and go off to do the food shop."

'I think when you are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable it becomes a lot more scary...'

Meanwhile Tracey has also found solace and distraction through her love of sports, and she said the continuation of sports events was another important factor for the wellbeing of the nation.

"I do think events should be going ahead," she added. "It provides people with an opportunity to zone out from what's going on in the rest of the world.

"I recognise there's some concern over celebrations in football but the FA is putting in controls, and people need to recognise the players are in a fairly secure bubble in sport.

"I would love to see the Six Nations go ahead,"she added. "They're in a secure bubble - they're not going out and mixing in the community. You get one or two exceptions but you get that everywhere."

As for keeping track of sporting news once she's off Twitter, she added: "I'll just have to find another way."

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