Having a voice
After my own life-saving treatment I wanted to play a tiny part in tackling this disease, so I started running for the Royal Marsden Cancer Research Charity to raise funds for research. As I recovered, I became keen to learn more about the science behind cancer and the current research. When the Crick asked me to be involved with the creation of their Outwitting Cancer exhibition, with the aim of raising awareness about cancer, I didn’t hesitate to accept.
During our sessions that were designed to inform the content of the exhibition, we discussed what cancer meant to us, what we understood about it, and the research into it.
We talked a lot about fear. “Cancer” has always been such a scary word, a diagnosis that no-one wants to hear. But all of us on the panel agreed that innovative developments through research mean more of us are able to live with cancer and be cured. I would like my children, and future generations, to hear that 'c-word' and not be scared, because they will know that there are effective treatments available.
Being involved with the Crick has given me a voice as a patient, and enabled me to widen my understanding of the amazing progress that is being made in cancer research, which the Outwitting Cancer exhibition is now publicising to a wide audience. If the exhibition can generate awareness, and ultimately enthusiasm, about the importance of research, then that is a positive step that will help us move forward with confronting this disease.
Believing in science
On the opening night of the exhibition at the Crick, Professor Charles Swanton, clinician scientist at University College London Hospitals, senior group leader at the Crick and Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, spoke about how in 1972 (the year I was born) 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer died, and that today 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are cured. It’s an incredible statistic isn’t it? It’s unbelievable progress. Research did that!
During my time on the patient advisory panel I was lucky enough to meet scientists and hear about their work, including how treatments are being developed that are tailored and personalised to the needs of a specific patient rather than to a specific cancer. It’s all ground-breaking stuff.