Wow, what a year 2022 was! I guess many of us thought that once the ‘covid years’ were behind us, we could try to rebuild our lives and the country. So how did that go for everyone? We were rocked by continuing political chaos, causing the economy to almost self destruct. The terrible war in Ukraine, causing the price of electricity and gas to rise to virtually unaffordable levels. Add to that the dreadful unrest from unions etc. Then, almost inevitably after many tough years, the NHS has been broken. Leaving us all holding our breath if we get any health issue. Gps mostly difficult to see, but worse, pray you don’t have to go to A+E. In many cases you could fly half way round the world, by the time you get seen. The UK is more anxious and divided than at any time I can remember in my 66 years.
This is the perfect position for our current politicians. Of course, none of them will be in post to see any meaningful progress. So whilst we stamp our feet on a never ending list of subjects, the real issues get left behind. Worse still, I see absolutely no desire from the people that count, to even try and improve things. It seems the leaders of our country want to join the well rewarded sector of ‘celebrity.’ Worrying more about their personal brand, than the job they are there to do. Be assured, I will be wasting no more time here on politicians and politics. The biggest obstacle to progress in the current world in my opinion.
During the end of 2022, we have seen numerous high profile deaths, which certainly reminded me about my own fragility. Yet again, many of these were cancer related. Sadly, but naturally, this pattern is being replicated across society, throughout the world. From a recent report in the Daily Telegraph, sadly hidden behind a paywall, it states that there have been 8900 extra deaths from cancer, since the start of the pandemic. Unsurprisingly this number is increasing, being described as a ‘deadly cancer timebomb.’ We are also one of the worst countries for treatment delays now. The UK is no longer a safe place to be if you have this awful disease. Yes, of course some patients will receive everything they need, but many will not. We are now part of the great ‘health lottery.’
Resources are scarce everywhere, and there are now always urgent things to deal with in the economy. I can understand why this is happening, but will not accept it! We have been forced to deal with everything in a ‘short term’ way. ‘Firefighting,’ rather than with any cohesive planning. Yet the sector as a whole, is still receiving billions annually, and I see no positive changes at all. Quite simply this cannot continue, without increasing deaths, as we are seeing now! With 50% of us being directly affected by cancer in our lifetime, the numbers will just not make sense. This is quite literally a ‘death spiral.’
Now we have the NHS fighting for it’s own survival, there is even less focus on cancer. With waiting lists increasing rapidly, there appears no logical way that the system can effectively handle the numbers now. We know that to be effective we need to diagnose the disease much quicker. But we just don’t have the capacity of staff to do that? These are the facts. We must now be a lot more active in our own care than we ever have been. Everything is taking longer and longer which we absolutely cannot accept. This is a time critical disease for goodness sake.
My position is quite unique in the cancer world. Not only am I long term patient, but am also involved in working with clinicians and charities etc across the globe. I have watched and pushed for many years to improve the way the system works for patients. Frustratingly, with limited success I must add. But in recent years, even pre-covid, it became obvious that most major players in the game had lost their way. Big pharma, is now driving most major decisions. There is no single powerful voice to represent patients. All charities tend to be working in their own way. But importantly most politicians globally, have, in reality, lost interest in a never ending chase for improvement in cancer statistics.
So I plant my personal flag in the ground for 2023! Although it feels like I’m pushing against the tide, I will be working even harder and ‘noisier,’ to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. There is still plenty of room for improvement, much of which should have happened years ago. Even with the current financial restraints. We must all work smarter. Unfortunately working hard doesn’t mean we are working effectively. I cannot accept that this sad situation is our lot. We can, and should be doing more. Politicians may have left us on the back burner, but we must keep challenging that. Cancer is blighting all our lives and families. It is the modern day plague. New Year let’s be having you!!
As always these are my personal opinions based on my own experiences. Please feel free to share your own below. You can also connect with me on Twitter for more about this, @christheeagle1