Do you know someone who has died of cancer? Most of us do. If not a close relative, then a friend, or a neighbour, a colleague or a business acquaintance. When I was thinking about this post, I decided to write down those I knew.
Anne – she was not much older than I am now when she died of breast cancer. A big-hearted friend of my mother who left a husband, a grown daughter, two teenage sons, and a little granddaughter. Anne was funny, chaotic and compassionate.
Auntie Jessie – darling Auntie Jessie, love of Good Uncle Ian’s life (being a modest man, he refused to be called GREAT Uncle Ian). Jessie danced at my wedding, while Ian watched as he was prevented by his ill health, ‘I dance the first dance and the last dance with my wife’, he told me, ‘and I keep an eye on her in between’. A year later she was gone.
Uncle Dave – he died of lung cancer at Christmastime, so his family faces another festive season without their larger than life patriarch.
Aillidh – she struggled long and hard before the leukaemia took her from her loving family. They are lost without their precious little girl, and are facing their first Christmas without her.
I could go on, adding the names of my husband’s boss who died of prostate cancer, my mother in law’s friend who quietly died of cancer while not wanting to make a fuss … so many stories, so many wasted lives.
How is it possible that we spend so much on Cancer Research, but so many still die? How often have we read in a newspaper of promising new research that could change how we treat cancer?
This is not to knock the charities which fund Cancer Research, or those who fund raise for them, but are we directing the funds to the research that could really make a difference?
A while back I wrote about a friend who is trying to raise money to fund innovate cancer research, and at about the same time iCancer was founded.
Projects such as iCancer and Cancer Immunotherapy Fund are putting their money into innovative areas of research. As long as there is no money to be made, there is no interest from Big Pharma.
iCancer states on their website
We are raising £2m needed to pay for the testing of a NET-eating virus that could end deaths from this cancer. We are doing it direct – through Twitter and Facebook and Youtube, using Kickstarter. We are cutting out the middleman, the drugs companies and appealing straight to you. We are not a charity, we have no budget and the money goes direct to the research team – not us.
There are no wristbands, no fancy launches and no rock concerts. It’s just us and you.
They have already raised over £100k, and have been featured in various national and local media outlets. It is a good start.
Funding cancer research is only half the battle. There is another problem.
As the law stands, medical negligence is defined as deviation from standard procedure. Any deviation from standard procedure is likely to result in a verdict of guilt for medical negligence. Any kind of new treatment is therefore very risky to implement.
Lord Maurice Saatchi has today introduced a Bill in the House of Lords which could have dramatic consequences for those searching for new treatments on cancer, saying that the current situation
‘poses an obvious problem – all innovation is deviation and therefore non-deviation is non-innovation
Fear of litigation for medical negligence is a deterrent to innovation in cancer treatment’
The Bill will codify into Law what constitutes best practice in regard to responsible medical innovation. Lord Saatchi explains:
‘It will clarify what counts as responsible innovation and clearly contrast that with reckless experimentation which puts patients’ lives at risk,It will provide certainty to the courts and doctors about the difference between the two. In this way, the Bill will safely shift the balance from therapeutic conservatism to therapeutic innovation.
What is the connection between iCancer and the Bill that Lord Saatchi has introduced?
They both come from people who have been affected by cancer. The founders of iCancer have been touched by the disease NETs (a rare cancer of the neuroendocrine system).
Lord Saatchi decided to introduce the Medical Innovation Bill after his wife Josephine Hart was diagnosed with primary peritoneal cancer.
Josephine died of the disease in June 2011.
All these people came together because of one thing – cancer. They had a common enemy. And they were well equipped to fight it.
Dominic is a communications specialist. His friend Liz is a social media campaigner and consultant. Alexander is an author and campaigner.
Their plan of raising funds, combined with Saatchi’s plan of ensuring that innovation is safe for doctors to implement, could be the game changer in the fight against cancer.
Crowdfunding describes the collective work of various individuals to pool resources to finance a cause or business idea. I have blogged about Catapult, a crowdfunding platform that aims to finance charitable projects benefiting women and girls. In recent months I have read about crowdfunding to help publish a book by Dr Sue Black, but have also read critical reviews of the crowdfunding idea.
It is inspiring to see what can be achieved when a group of dedicated people join together. When life deals us a heavy blow, it is damn hard to stand up and start shouting, but that is what these people have done. They are not going to be beaten by cancer, they are fighting back. They are also inspiring others to join in.
We might not all be able to put forward a Bill in the House of Lords, but we can support the initiative by talking about it, by using Social Media to gather momentum for the passage of this bill and for the aims of iCancer and Cancer Immunotherapy Fund.
We can harness the power of Social Media to bring about real change in the lives of thousands of cancer sufferers. To bring hope, and perhaps one day, a cure.