I can’t believe that I am approaching the age of sixty two. Not just because of my illness, but in general how quickly my life has gone. Since the incredible gift of my grandchildren, I am reliving my youth for the third time, having lived it on my own initially, then with my own sons afterwards. My parents lived through the war, and saw life totally different to the way I am now. We had to struggle for every penny and were one of the last in the street to have a television, phone and car.
Difficult to remember that I have seen those times. When I went to school I saw the opportunity of breaking away from the cycle of poverty that my parents had lived. I rebelled against the system and got employed as soon as I could. No more endless studying subjects that bored me. There was a regular income, not big, but I could see a reasonable future. Exciting, my life was in my own hands!
The dreams initially, then the reality. I wanted to be a pilot with the RAF but started out in Waitrose 🙂 But I was good at what I did, and within several years I was working for myself and earning good money. Eventually I was a partner in my textile business, turning over millions of pounds, living the dream and travelling abroad. On reflection, we all want to live a ‘happy life’ and I do, so to me I have been successful! Life can be cruel, and even from our early days at school we are competing. At times we learn we are not as good as we think we are. But an important lesson!
Not everyone is privileged to lead a long and full life. In my own case I thought mine was going to be taken at the age of fifty one. That would have been considered lucky by many of the families that we are helping through our SimPal charity. We have become more and more involved with children, as our work expands, and hear incredibly heart moving stories daily. From babies through to teenagers and young adults. Every age group bringing it’s own unique problems! If you are lucky enough to make it through your disease and treatment, the psychological issues that you will experience can impact the rest of your life.
Growing up is one of the most exciting times of your life, and again, I was lucky with good health. I can’t imagine trying to fit my education around treatment. A social life very different to my peers, possibly a life time of drugs, feeling lonely during what should be thrilling times. Enjoying a physical relationship can become very tricky, and impact you for the rest of your life. In my opinion these young people should be entitled to a lot of valuable support, and contact with peers. I’m beginning to see the shoots of this happening now, But it is still very difficult to reach everyone that may require that support.
My work is international and crosses all tumour types and age groups and I have recently come to find World Child Cancer charity dealing with children in developing countries. Their mission is, “To improve diagnosis, treatment and support for children with cancer, and their families, in the developing world.” What fantastic work these guys do! Working in countries with so many challenges, doing incredible things for families.
When we look around our country, we see so many issues to solve in the cancer sector, and as we all know we are struggling to find appropriate support wherever we look. But can you imagine, travelling for days with little food, to get your child seen by a doctor, then go home! The poverty issues and logistics of having regular treatment if you are lucky enough to be able to. I spoke to Jon, the CEO and I asked him about the issues in Myanmar with so many people displaced. It really sounded like a humanitarian disaster where I can imagine children with cancer were way down on the list of priorities.
I have enjoyed my own childhood, watching my boys grow up, and find a successful and happy life path. Now I am directly involved with my own grandchildren, encouraging them to enjoy every minute of their lives. They bring us such great joy. The gift of growing up is something we take for granted but it is not something given to all. As I age and enjoy the ‘extra time’ that my stem-cell transplant has given me my thoughts turn to children and young families affected by cancer. I was older and had experienced some life with family and friends, a gift which I now appreciate.
We will now accelerate our work with children and young adults through, our fantastic partnerships, to help as many people to have the gift of growing up. I would like to thank our incredible partners at CLIC Sargent for inviting us to become part of this valuable work. I would like to dedicate this piece to World Cancer Day My consistent wish is to rid this sector of waste and duplication, and with better collaboration put patients at the heart of your work. Maybe this year???
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