Unfortunately, this is not just a sensational title to draw you in to read this post. That is not how I work! As I’m sure you are all aware, my blogs are all drawn from my own personal experiences of things I have seen or spoken about. Always evidence based.
I have talked previously about our cancer survey that was completed recently. The transparent evidence is laid out in front of us here. The way that we are currently dealing with the disease is actually making things so slow. Producing many unnecessary deaths. People are dying because the system is creating obstacles for the those it purports to help! Below you will find just some of the basics that can be changed quickly but aren’t even being looked at.
GOVERNMENT: There are many issues that the Government can change simply by choosing to do so. The first is to return to the core premise that no condition is more important than any other, and to remove the Covid bias from everything. This should be followed by an acknowledgement that Cancer needs due attention, which means direct and immediate attention.
Most of the other changes require the Government to be proactive, raising the UK performance on Cancer to that of other countries; achieving equality of outcome for patients; bringing the various Cancer sector bodies together to make better overall progress; and leveraging the pharma industry to achieve better international outcomes. The missing element is a decision to do so.
CHARITIES: There is massive duplication and minimal collaboration amongst Cancer charities. As touched upon in 7.4, this is a natural consequence of the way that charities form, but from the point of view of: “Let’s solve Cancer and heal the patients” it is inefficient and a barrier to progress. Large charities are seen to be corporations with more focus on the business of running themselves than on the care they provide. Small charities feel they provide ‘coalface’ support with much less funding. As generators of funding it is not clear at any point where the money goes, nor how effective this process is overall. There is a feeling that this could be improved.
PHARMACEUTICALS: The pharmaceutical sector did not take part in the Survey and is, in general, regarded as some kind of remote corporate beast that is not part of the solution – with an implicit view that it is driven by profit and self-interest. This has been a UK-wide Survey, and pharmaceutical companies are multinational, but it is the kind of problem that a UK Cancer Czar would look at. There was a view that if pharma companies were able to generate Covid vaccines so quickly, setting aside some of their normal commercial considerations, then they should be able to do the same for Cancer drugs. NICE is seen to be slow to ratify drugs, and to update its guidelines.
SUMMARY: At the same time as this Results Document was being compiled, NHS statistics showed that more than 300,000 people missed urgent Cancer checks since the start of the pandemic.
These are hard figures and show that something needs to be done, but figures alone do not reflect the brutality of the situation. With Cancer, missed checks and missing care often means long-term illness or death caused because other lives have been saved in preference. This is over and above a background situation already failing because of a widespread lack of attention to detail, lack of collaboration, and lack of remedial action. It is not as if these problems are unknown or hidden – they are in plain sight. This Survey is simply a collection and presentation of what people already know. It, therefore, shows what “something needs to be done” actually is. In so doing it lays bare the extent of the problems and the current ineffectiveness of the response.
The tragedy, and the opportunity, is that most of the responses cost no money. They simply require that everyone abandons self-interest and works together intelligently towards a single communal goal of healing Cancer and caring for its patients.
I’m sure most of us affected by cancer were aware of many of the above factors. But I urge you to read the report in it’s entirety. Like me I’m sure you will be incredibly disappointed! With my personal experience as a patient, and working as an advocate for more than 10 years, I feel like I’m going dizzy on a fast moving roundabout. Getting nowhere, but seeing the same old faces and ideas going past. Of course we have made some improvements over time. But nothing relative to the amount of resource given to it. Our systems are so clunky that we cannot even take advantage of the wonderful new technology coming on stream. Mostly due to fear of change and lack of knowledge.
I receive 100s of messages weekly asking what we can do about it. So I have decided to focus on increasing the public pressure on the powers that be. To start making some timely changes for people affected by cancer. I will now be bringing sterner challenges to all the seniors involved in this, who have gone remarkably quiet. So many of our cancer community friends have been lost in the last 18 months, because it took too long to get them what they needed. Unless we break this current miserable cycle of failure, their incredible efforts will have been wasted, and more will die needlessly.
If you would like to help that would be great! Nothing onerous involved at all. Just feel free to follow me on @christheeagle1 and share any of my social-media posts. It would also be great if you could let me know how the current cancer-crisis has/is affecting you and your family. Unless we get cancer back in the headlines we will be slipping further and further backwards. Then we will all be part of the next big crisis, which cannot be solved by a vaccine!
That’s a great blog post! If you are new cancer patient looking for effective oral and painless cancer treatment then visit our partner IIIO Clinic.
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Hi Chris, it’s not often I’m lost for words but I was when I first read your article and – to some extent – I still am while reading it again now.
Over at https://www.doyoucus.org.uk/ you can read about the Do You C Us? campaign, a collaboration between Cancer52 (https://www.cancer52.org.uk/) and Pfizer around rare and less common cancers – i.e., cancers other than the main four – that launched last month.
The Cancer52 alliance is made up of almost 100 predominantly small patient support group cancer charities. Might their work be of interest to Chris’s Cancer Community?…
Thanks so much, I thought the same when I read it again before posting. So shocked that we are even going backwards from there. Of course every country is having it’s own challenges with covid and other long term illness. But once the dust has settled our services will be terrible from years of little investment and chronic backlog.
I am very aware of the specific campaign that you mention above and of course the great work of Cancer 52. I do of course already share and support this work where appropriate.
Being an individual I must choose where and when to spend my time to make it most efficient, and my experience has shown me that I don’t operate effectively when being in a group. I have given up all group commitments in the last year due to the difficulties of working at distance.
Most importantly I have been used to working on my own for so many years. It is when I’m happiest and can have most impact. I preach collaboration and operate that system with a light touch.
Thank you so much for pointing these out Deb. Big love to you all, Chris
Hi Chris, although I collaborate with others (Cancer52) and work as part of a team (Action on Womb Cancer) I totally understand the preference for working alone (Womb Cancer Info)! I’m all for what works for you as an individual!! Much love to you & your family, Deb X
Thanks Deb. Over time I have been members of many groups but mostly achieving little practical action. More about politics in and outside.
Personally I am so much more effective on my own, and importantly it is the way I prefer. I know you get it!
Big love as always, Chris