Today, Tuesday 4th February 2020, is World Cancer Day. It may seem like another one of those awareness days for many, but for those of us who have been affected by cancer, in any way, shape or form, it comes as a difficult reminder of the fragility of life, and how a diagnosis can literally change lives forever.
According to Cancer Research UK, 1 in 2 people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. That makes for difficult reading. Females have the highest lifetime risk of breast, lung and bowel cancers, while males have the highest lifetime risk of prostate, lung and bowel cancers.
Each year on February 4th, World Cancer Day takes place as a reminder for us all that action needs to be taken to prevent cancer first and foremost, and if not to prevent, to detect early, diagnose promptly and treat cancer quickly and effectively. In doing so, remembering the effect cancer has on the physical and mental health of those living with cancer, and those supporting their loved ones through a cancer diagnosis.
My world has been turned upside down over the last year as a result of pancreatic cancer, which ended my precious mum’s life far too early. This was despite the fact of early detection (which was by accident). Unfortunately, a three month period from detection to diagnosis, followed by a five month period from diagnosis to treatment, meant that despite successful surgery to remove the cancer, it had already spread to another part of mum’s body. As my dad and I are now left without our most precious person in our lives, we feel bitter and angry at how trusted individuals and systems could leave somebody with cancer for so long without appropriate care, and that’s in a modern, developed country with a world-leading healthcare system. It was only through complaints and perseverance that those five months waiting weren’t even longer. This shouldn’t be the case though.
Wherever we are in the world, and whatever our experience is, we need to fight, together. It’s something we can’t ignore. Join me on #WorldCancerDay in raising awareness, and shouting from the rooftops that we won’t wait, or be silenced, about cancer, or by cancer.