Today is World Cancer Day. An opportunity to raise awareness and funds, offer support and do whatever is necessary to rid the world of that utter twat, cancer.
Recently, I was invited to see the amazing work that's going on at Cancer Research UK, London. To say it was a privilege to be invited is an understatement.
I sat intrigued and with complete admiration as I witnessed the most inspiring and powerful presentation from Dr Sanz-Moreno, the leader of a team of scientists investigating how melanoma cells move and spread around the body. Her passion for helping find cancer care breakthroughs with her team was quite moving and immediately evident. She was deeply honest, factual and helped remove some of the myths and conspiracies that we’ve all heard – no, the pharmaceuticals and scientists don’t currently have one secret cure for all cancers and are holding it back to ensure continued funding from governments! These people are trying to save lives, much like a firefighter or a paramedic would, so why would they keep such a thing to themselves. More here on such myths here:
Dr Sanz-Moreno spoke about how it’s likely that 1 in 2 of us will get cancer at some point in our lives. This is because of an ageing population, but also lifestyle, amongst other factors. We can help ourselves by living healthier lifestyles, but what’s key to ensuring increased chances of recovery and survival, is early detection – basically ensuring those cancerous cells have remained as localised as possible. Early detection comes by knowing when it’s right to see your GP. If something doesn’t look right, a mole for example, or doesn’t feel right, a breast or testicle, or other unexplainable symptoms persist, get to the doctor at the earliest opportunity.
Here are some links to early diagnosis that may be of interest:
Further to the pieces on early diagnosis, some further links on prevention are below. The work of the scientists at CRUK shows that more than 4 in 10 cancers are preventable:
Obviously I’m a parent, this is a parenting blog after all, but so were the other bloggers in attendance. Key for us all was to find some further information about cancer and children. It has to be every parent’s worst nightmare and I feel so much sympathy for the parents and children going through such cruel hell.
CRUK are running a Kids & Teens campaign at the moment. Details can be found below on the work they’re doing and the ways in which you can help. Surely you have a bag of clothes to donate at your nearest TK Maxx? Plus, please make sure you support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September. It doesn't take much effort at all to make a big difference.
· Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens is a fundraising campaign set up by Cancer Research UK to support research into new, better and kinder treatments for children and young people with cancer (aged 0-24 years).
· 100% of the money raised through Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens will be ring-fenced to fund research into cancers that affect children and young people (aged 0-24).
· September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM). People can show their support by wearing a gold ribbon pin badge or a gold ribbon.
· Keep an eye out for the TK Maxx ‘Give Up Clothes For Good’ Campaign which encourages people to donate their pre-loved, quality clothes, accessories and homeware to their local TK Maxx and help beat children’s cancers sooner by raising money for Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens.
· The Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards, in partnership with TK Maxx, celebrate the strength of children in the UK who have been diagnosed with cancer. The awards are open to children aged under 18, who live in the UK and have been diagnosed with cancer within the last 5 years at the date of nomination. Each child nominated receives a trophy, t-shirt, certificate and £50 TK Maxx voucher.
· Nominations are open now, and you can find out more online at http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/donate/kids-and-teens/kids-teens-star-awards
Our tour of the lab was another moving experience; lead by young scientists with a passion I haven’t really ever experienced before in any other line of work. They spoke so positively about the work they’re doing. They’re spending hours and hours each day in sterile conditions, with their eyes glued to microscopes and laptops, just looking for that one breakthrough that might help. Week after week, month after month, year after year, they’re manipulating cells in certain ways to understand cancer and to find progress in the ways it can can be treated. And when a breakthrough is made, there’s never that ‘right our work is done, let’s go to the pub’ attitude, because it seems everything they do is a small step to helping beat a very ugly and huge beast of a problem. Then there’s also the issue that a positive step might in fact fall flat as soon as it's taken out of lab conditions and tested away from a petri dish. Hugely frustrating for someone like me, but this team are just intent on helping, however long it takes. I have so much admiration for them, the rest of the team at CRUK and the work carried out by other cancer charities.
I'll leave you with the one key message I took from my time with CRUK; I've already mentioned it earlier, but early detection is absolutely vital to survival. Please, please check yourself, don’t be shy and see a doctor if you’re at all worried. I know next time I have a concern, I won’t delay having it looked at.
Thank you to Cancer Research UK for allowing me to see the incredible work you're all doing.