My own thoughts on the ‘power’ of cancer.

Today, felt very much like a ‘writing day.’ I am home alone, and it is freezing outside, so just having my computer for company, is normally a recipe for things to flow! However, the phone rang, a pal popped round, and a couple of articles landed in my inbox, so my focus was diverted.But as usual, after reading and chatting for the last few days, my subject matter for this post duly arrived.

I am certainly aware of the effects caused by cancer, to my own life and the thousands of other people I have had the great pleasure to have come into contact with, but I then started to look at the bigger picture.My first thoughts were towards our main treatments of cancer, which are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.

In my lifetime, I have seen some amazing things, including man walking on the moon, mobile phones, and the Internet. Fantastic advances in technology. This made me look at how we dealt with cancer in the past. It seems that the first recorded cancer surgery, was in 1846.Radiotherapy has been used for in excess of 100 years, and chemotherapy, has been used since the 1940s. Of course, all of those methods have improved, and are much more ‘targeted’ than they were, but considering how long we have been trying to treat cancer this way, the outcomes are still very much unsure

We now have very powerful scanners, that can tell us a lot more about the cancer. There is robotic surgery, and fantastically accurate radiotherapy that we can even use on brain tumours. Now we can also use genome data to help target treatment more accurately, but still cancer continues to wreak havoc in our society.Maybe it is our ‘awareness raising’ that is working effectively, but rarely a day goes by without a major news article regarding cancer.It still feels very much like a modern day plague.

The battle with cancer, has succeeded where politics and religion fail, and that is to unify people around the world, to work together to find a cure. Investment in drugs and research is happening in every country,people all trying to unpick the lock. Millions of pounds and man hours all trying to find a cure. As each year goes by, another ground breaking discovery happens, but it still feels like we are an age away from the cure we all seek.Is cancer getting cleverer? When we find new drugs, does it eventually find it’s own immunity to them?

I have mentioned briefly above, the power of the disease, but I would also like to mention the power that it also seems to give people.In my numerous voluntary roles, I meet and talk to so many people who’s lives have been touched by cancer and want to do something positive. From fund raising, to raising awareness, people stretch themselves beyond the call of duty. They seem to find strength, talents and endurance, which they never realised they had.Climbing mountains, making films, writing books.These are just a few of the things that people are prompted to do, when touched by cancer.

It seems to encourage many people to step outside their normal comfort zone. So many people that I know, have had their entire life changed, including a change of career, and are devoting a majority of their time to cancer related projects. We have 1000s of cancer charities around the world, staffed with volunteers, helping people affected by cancer in many diverse ways, both directly and indirectly.

Young, old, black or white, we are all united in a fight against cancer. Millions of people and millions of pounds, working to improve things around the world. I am struggling to think of anything else that has so much common resource fighting it. This demonstrates, the power that this beast has. There are many important issues in the world, but they are generally localised, maybe to one or two countries or regions. Very few that cross the globe like cancer.

How does cancer have that power? For some it gives strength, for others, fear. It makes strong people weak, but also weak people strong. Is it us that gives it the power, in our minds? Is it the fear of the unknown? There is an element of fear in even saying the word.It can’t even be persuaded by money, that is how powerful it is!

It is the first time for a long time that I have really sat and thought about some of the complexities of my disease. I didn’t sign up voluntarily, I was conscripted, but now I am a member, I am going to do my best to bring about a change in power!!

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