After living fifteen years with my own cancer, including working twelve with everyone else’s too, I thought I might be unshockable. However the last few weeks have left me shaken emotionally. Firstly, one of our long-term friends was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This led to her having a lot of intensive treatment and surgery. Now she has been told there is little time left. She has a husband that is also unwell and now facing the rest of his life alone. They have no children. But the worst thing for me is that they have chosen to no longer speak on the phone. They won’t see visitors either. We keep in touch by email but they are very insistent that is all. Finally there will be no funeral. This is the first time I have ever encountered this reaction.
Secondly, one of my incredibly supportive friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. A total shock to us both! But she had been seeing her medical team for some time, with various symptoms. However a suspicion of cancer was never mentioned at any stage over the years. Which caused me to think yet again, how individual, cancer can be. When close friends are diagnosed it is always upsetting. But I couldn’t help but wonder about the lack of discussion. Of course I couldn’t cure their cancer but personally I have always found it helpful to talk about things. Yet again we can see how we are all impacted differently.
I feel totally helpless in both cases. Probably how Mrs L felt when watching me go through my own experiences? Not about me this time though is it? I remember writing a piece in my early years about having to be selfish once cancer enters your life. It becomes about self protection. Just because it’s not what I would do, it doesn’t make it wrong. Very far from it!
Being from the older generation, I’m finding it tough. Seeing so many people I have known for many years, struggling with poor health then passing away. The world is changing fast now. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? It’s Probably the most chaotic I have seen in my lifetime. So many things happening now, that could have been avoided with better planning. The collapse of the NHS being a major one. Shockingly, I see little concern from any major leadership, either national or international. More worryingly I see nobody other than President Zelensky in Ukraine who even looks like a leader!
However nothing will take away my personal focus from cancer. After hearing how poor the leadership is at Macmillan Cancer Support, we now hear that Cancer Research are cutting back on a lot of their work. As I have said many times, the sector has been self-serving for so long. With everyone ultimately being dictated to by big pharma. Now more people can see that just throwing money at a problem, with no accountability is not the answer. Most people in the sector continue to be well paid for failure.
My father died of bowel cancer, my mother lived with breast cancer treatment for many years, and I now have my own issues. At least 50% of my friends have also been impacted. Many having died, or living a poor quality of life with side-effects. For sure, we are raising awareness better and more frequently. We have incredible technology too. But sadly the number of people dying from cancer is increasing. I call it the modern day plague! 30 million people will be directly affected in their lifetime in the UK alone. If this isn’t something that demands urgent action, I don’t know what is? But nothing from any leaders. Just more meaningless letters signed by charities to Government. Also waffle about another 10 year plan that nobody will live to see the result of.
It is time to understand that the NHS and corporate charities have absolutely NO say in what is happening now. The days where they spend millions on ‘political influencing’ should be finished. We have to ask, what they are actually achieving other than employing many people. Unless we change the way we work in the sector, death rates will increase even further. I am writing this after hearing about the death of the wonderful Olivia Newton-John from metastatic breast cancer. We are still mourning the incredible Deborah James too. How long must this continue, whilst the key players sit on their hands and pharma rub theirs with glee?
As always, these are my personal views based on experience. Please feel free to join the discussion by adding your comments below. I was a massive fan of Olivia Newton-John and I couldn’t publish this piece without adding a little video of her through the years.