Those of us affected by cancer appreciate the true value of time. Many during covid have also learned it, plus the fragility of our health. One minute all’s well, the next you can be staring into the unknown. Then relying on the system to keep you alive. But the world has made incredible timely progress against the virus. Hopefully we will be living with it like we do with flu. It will be just another another annual vaccination we need to keep us safe.
Having witnessed the pace that healthcare CAN move. I am even more disappointed at the total lack of urgency in the cancer world in post-covid times. I was absolutely shocked to see this story from Breast Cancer Now being heralded as a ‘win!’ It has taken 15 years to get an audit to officially just COUNT the number of people affected by secondary breast cancer. Yes 15 years, OMG!! This should have been happening since 2009, but of course it didn’t! So what happens next?
“We will be working with NHS England as they plan for the audit. Audits are huge projects and it will take time to set up and collect the data. While data from the audit won’t be available immediately, when it is ready, it will give us information like we’ve never seen before on secondary breast cancer – helping to improve the experiences of people living with this disease across treatment, care and support. We are eager to see similar audits implemented in other UK nations and we will continue to call for this as part of our campaigning.”
So when should we expect to find out the official numbers? ” The Healthcare Quality Improvements Partnership (HQIP) are beginning the process of scoping and commissioning the audit. This is a considerable process and can take a year. We would expect results to be published in 2023. The audit will then run for at least 3 years.” Assuming things run to time, which they rarely do, it will be 2025 before we have some meaningful statistics. By that time, many with a secondary breast cancer diagnosis now will be dead! They will be a part of those figures!
If the charity has been campaigning for this for 15 years I really wonder how much was spent in donations on this project? But also from the same charity comes details that deaths are expected to rise in 2022. “Breast cancer is the UK’s most common cancer, with around 55,000 women and 350 men being diagnosed with the disease each year. While more women are surviving the disease than ever before, nearly 11,500 still lose their lives each year in the UK – with survival rates continuing to lag behind other European countries such as Sweden, Portugal, Malta, Germany and France. Almost all deaths from the disease are attributable to the development of metastatic (or ‘secondary’) breast cancer – where the tumour cells spread to other parts of the body – which remains incurable.”
Is this really the best we can do? With increasing death rates across all tumour types our work in the sector based on the above, could best be described as MISERABLE. Here we have their big ambition! “We have a bold vision. That, by 2050,everyone diagnosed with breast cancer will live and live well.” Going at the current pace we will be lucky to see real progress by the year 3000!!
Yet again, as years go by more people are dying. But so many people are being well paid for abject failure. To claim this audit as a win just really sums up a bulk of the cancer sector. Totally toothless and ineffective. How can this timescale be acceptable, for people with cancer. Why is nobody talking about the total inaction of Government?
So few people speak out because they don’t know the reality of dealing with secondary breast cancer. Yet those living with this disease see it as another kick in the teeth of delays, lack of urgency, focus, transparency, as well as accountability and action. How do we have personalized care when we are missing a fundamental part, DATA.
I just wonder if this PR opportunity was to justify having been so quiet during the covid crisis. Daily now, I am seeing excuse after excuse by all parts of the sector as to why nothing is happening. Cancer is not going to suddenly cure itself and we will obviously be facing a major crisis for many years. So many more deaths that could’ve been avoided. Our children will remember we were the generation that accepted more cancer deaths as the cost of dealing with the virus.
This post is not intended to just dig out one charity. I want to highlight how the entire sector has become accepting of unrealistic timescales. No other industry I know would work in this way. Why must we continue to accept this? Cancer is the modern day plague!
I would like to dedicate this post to the wonderful Angela Oliver, an incredible campaigner for this specific issue. Who very sadly is having end of life treatment right now. Yet another person lost to this terrible disease. Whilst we pat ourselves on the back that we can actually now officially count these people?? What a disgrace!
As always these are my personal views based on my own experiences. Please feel free to share your own below.