Julie Osman

Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Julie was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma (stage 3) three years ago at the age of 54 (she was misdiagnosed by her GP in 2017). On diagnosis, she underwent right axillary lymph node dissection at Morriston Hosptial in Swansea and in mid-December 2018, she commenced adjuvant immunotherapy treatment with a drug called Nivolumab, every 2 weeks for a year at Velindre Cancer Centre. However, her treatment was complicated with the onset of immunotherapy induced side effects (pneumonitis and hepatitis) which led to being hospitalised at Velindre Cancer Centre for a period of time. After receiving prolonged treatment for these conditions and being kept under close review in June 2020, the scan results showed that the melanoma had spread to her mammary glands and she underwent a second operation at Morriston Hospital in November 2020. As she had the BRAF-mutant melanoma, Julie was offered new targeted therapy drugs Dabrafenib and Trametinib, but in February 2021 the melanoma had spread again and this time she was left with a 6” x 4” skin graft on her chest and leg. Unfortunately, she started to suffer side effects from the drugs Dabrafenib and Trametinib and the decision was taken to stop the treatment in May 2021.  The results of Julie’s last two CT scans have been clear and she is now in remission.     

Voluntary Support Work  

As immunotherapy treatment was so new, Julie found herself wanting to speak with like-minded melanoma patients.  But as there wasn’t a support group in place, she decided to establish a patient-led Melanoma Support Group myself and worked with Macmillan specialist nurses to provide her with patient referrals to the group.  The group tends to meet every 2 months to share experiences and provide moral and practical support. Julie has also set up a WhatsApp group so everyone can communicate with each other between meet ups. 

Earlier this month, Julie raised £430 for Macmillan by hosting a coffee morning.  She also participated in a focus group consultation event organised by Macmillan with the Department of Work and Pensions as part of the Shaping future support: the health and disability green paper – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

As part of the Living Well programme of work being undertaken by Cardiff and Vale UHB, Julie met with physiotherapists to discuss their plans to offer a new 6 week online patient-led course for those “living with persistent pain”.

She has also been involved in a discussion with Velindre Cancer Centre about the development of a new patient engagement framework which is due to be submitted to the Trustee Board in January 2022.

Professional Career 

Prior to her cancer diagnosis, Julie had worked for the past 13 years in a dual role as Director of Business Administration and Company Secretary for an educational registered charity and company limited by guarantee. Her role involved utilising a broad range of business management skills to support the CEO in the development, delivery and evaluation of the charity’s strategic priorities.  This included the management of operational business plans and annual budgets to ensure that operational objectives were delivered against the 3-year business plan. The development of efficient internal policies and processes were essential in order for Julie to monitor compliance with statutory and regulatory requirement across the organisation, ensuring it maintained a robust governance structure. Julie held responsibility for all operational HR requirements and project managed a number of change management programmes.  These involved the implementation of a number a new systems and the migration to Office which enabled the company to operate more efficiently.  Julie managed the communications function of a number of complex national networks that existed to share best practise within the sector which we used to consult and inform our external stakeholders (including the Welsh Government and regulatory bodies) of any changes or developments being made. 

Julie holds a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialism in Marketing. Since the completion of her MBA, she has employed her keen interest in marketing and communications to execute improvements and innovate company processes and engagement across the public and private sector organisations she has worked in.