There have been a few times since I started this journey that I have been asked a small number of similar questions, so I thought that in lieu of more of my babble (see previous blog post for last week’s ramblings) I’d fill in some general blanks and my rationale behind blogging.
Anyone who knows me personally will know that I’m fiercely proud of everything that we achieve at Relay for Life Harrow and the work of Cancer Research UK in general. We enable the most advanced minds in the world the ability to beat cancer at the basic level. But this strikes me as different. It’s direct action and feels much more personal; reaching out and being part of something we’re ultimately striving for; a cure.
But what does that mean? In everyday life, “a cure for cancer” has become a cliché for the unachievable goal. At Cancer Research UK “cure” is the end goal that won’t be achieved until very cancer is cured; something that will be achieved someday. It’s still revered as something far off in the distance though as we know there is so much work to be done. Even at Relay, as we spell out the word CURE next to the word HOPE, it does little to instill the idea that cancer can be cured.
But some cancers can be cured. That’s why we have cancer survivors. We’re not talking about a small number of lucky few either; half of all cancer patients will survive for 5 years or more. Some cancers, such as testicular, have a 97% survival rate.
The Anthony Nolan Trust provides what we’re looking for; a cure. The register helps to match individual blood cancer patients to those who can help them.
Anthony Nolan is a different charity and not related to Cancer Research UK; but to me they go hand in hand. The discoveries that have allowed stem cell transplants and the work of Anthony Nolan have come in no small part from the work of Cancer Research UK; and the beneficiaries of the Anthony Nolan Trust, our Survivors, are celebrated as VIPs by Cancer Research UK at Relay for Life.
Though saying that, I was a little unsure whether I should be writing this blog in case there was any confusion about the work of either charity. It was a tough call as we try very hard to put out a clear message of what we’re trying to do and align ourselves to the Cancer Research UK that I didn’t want to undermine what we’ve achieved so far. I also didn’t want to spread any misconception about what the Anthony Nolan Trust is or what it aims to do.
The alternative standpoint is, of course, that the above view is a rather partisan one. Cancer
doesn’t fall neatly into silos, and neither should the fight against cancer. In fact one of the biggest projects CRUK are currently working on is a new London based cross-disciplinary research centre called the Francis Crick Institute for this very reason. More information can be found at http://support.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/donate/become-a-major-donor/how-you-can-give/create-the-change/about-the-francis-crick.
Obviously I ended up going for the second option and so far I think it’s going quite well. I’m trying to combat the confusion by spelling things out as best I can and hope that it’s paying off (?!). I would like to receive any feedback on these blogs so please leave a message at the bottom or email me at Teams@RFL-Harrow.org.uk
In the next week or so I’ll be telling you about my preliminary medical – it’s more exciting than it sounds, honest!