Tag Archives: cancer

Stand Up 2 Cancer

English: Gwyneth Paltrow at the 2011 Venice Fi...

YOU made a difference


Cancer Research UK have announced that they raised



from their recent TV Show.

However, they are still having donations coming in, ” so we can’t say exactly how much we have raised, we only have the amount raised from the Friday show”.


Television, music and film stars came together in a national fundraising event to get us all donating in the fight against cancer.

The nice thing about organisers Cancer Research UK (CRUK)  is that they say thank you – see this video they have released:  http://supportus.cancerresearchuk.org/campaign-pages/2012-annual-update/?utm_campaign=Annual_Update_120912&utm_content=45157586552&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Emailvision

What you can still do

CRUK need YOUR support.   Unlike in the States, they haven’t the funds to pay for massive advertising to alert everyone to what is happening.

You can do your bit by

  • getting your local Pub to run a fund-raising evening to watch the Telethon on the 19th
  • get your office or workplace to organise a collection
  • get friends together to fundraise

and this will help CRUK raise a record amount to zap cancer on the head.

What’s happening

Bringing together a unique mix of entertainment, science and fundraising, a super-sized group of celebrities will come together to show their support for SU2C UK, including: The Simpsons, Tom Daley, Kylie Minogue, Leona Lewis, Cheryl Cole, Jonnie Peacock, Emeli Sande, Jenson Button, JLS, Jimmy Carr, Jack Whitehall, Anna Friel, The Cast of 8 out of 10 Cats, The English National Ballet, Martin Freeman, Miranda Hart, Simon Bird, and David Haslehoff in a mixture of live appearances and specially recorded messages.

Alan Carr revealed: “Pretty much everyone will be affected by this disease in their lifetime, and that’s the very simple reason why I’m honoured to be involved with this campaign. Like so many people, I’ve seen exactly how destructive the big C is. I’ve lost two people already this.

Since Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) began in the USA in 2008, it has raised more than £100 million for cancer research.

WHAT you can do

Start to plan ahead for the Telethon next year.

Ask you local Pub if they will host an evening nexg year.

As Gwyneth Paltrow says: “Like so many people all over the world, I know what it’s like to lose a loved one to cancer; it took my Dad in the prime of his life. Stand Up To Cancer has the power to revolutionise the way we fight this disease, by uniting doctors, scientists and patients in groundbreaking research. This special broadcast will mark a wonderful milestone as SU2C evolves into a true global movement.”

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, says: “It’s not just technology or knowledge that we need to win our fight to beat cancer – it’s funding – and every pound we raise is a step closer to achieving our goal to beat this disease.

We are entering the ‘golden age’ of cancer research – but each and every one of us can stand up and make a difference right now to come together to raise vital funds for clinical research, accelerate progress and ultimately save more lives.”

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Should you have a Mammogram?

Cancer Screening – have your say


English: SAN DIEGO (Sept. 22, 2008) Lead Mammo...


There is heated debate in some quarters over benefits or problems caused by Mammograms, with experts taking opposing views.  Recently I attended one debate where world-renowned experts were one step away from an Olympics-style boxing match – it became so heated.

There is an increasing recognition that people should be provided with what they need to make an informed choice themselves about cancer screening, including balanced information about benefits and harms.

Currently, Professor Amanda J Ramirez, National Cancer Action Team  is leading a  review, engaging clinicians, academics and charities, who have helped us develop a proposed approach.  This has been published on http://www.informedchoiceaboutcancerscreening.org/

Ramirez is keen to engage YOU in the debate over the coming months. The website will give members of the public an opportunity to have their say about the approach, the type of information that should be available and how it should be presented.  It is well worth taking this survey, which should take about ten minutes, as the answers will be noted and form  help the Team get the views of the public on the approach.


More and more research is showing breast screening can possibly cause harm as well as benefit.  Ever since the pan-European cancer charity Europa Donna held a fascinating debate in London on screening pros and cons, people have been asking questions.  And major organisations have typically stood back and offered platitudes rather than action.

Dept. of Health, NHS, Breast Cancer Charities, cancer hospitals, professionals, etc. have done what they do best – sat on the fence.

Brave souls, from cancer patient Mitzi Blennerhasset,  to one of world’s leading breast cancer surgeons, Prof. Michael Baum, have been calling and calling for an investigation – for more information – for the truth to come out – but finally Richards, the ‘Cancer Czar’,  has been goaded in to action, come off his comfy fence, and ordered a review.

Meanwhile Mitzi has posted a string of information on her website,


The debate was aired here first

It takes guts for a pioneer, lauded for his work, to go on looking at facts – then come out and say further research says “do the opposite”.

Basically, this was what Michael Baum has done. 

Over two years ago, on a night when there was thick snow,  enough interested people managed to fight through the drifts to hear a fascinating debate, put on by Europa Donna.

The debate was between various luminaries of the breast cancer world – and got so heated that the snows were well on their way to be melted.  Michael was there to explain why, having set up the NHS Breast Screening programme, he now advocated caution – and was telling people that the programme should provide much more information, and to urge further investigation into the results.

Of course, if the NHS ‘approves’ something, woe betide anyone who sensibly points out that once a programme is rolling, it might throw up anomalies.  The NHS has approved – so you don’t questions this.  Well, not if you don’t want the medical establishment to close ranks.

Michael doesn’t care; his position in the surgical oncology world is so eminent he doesn’t need to worry.  But it took guts for Mitzi to question the medical establishment, and demand better treatment for cancer patients.

It should be OUR personal choice if we want a mammogram, or not.  Not dependent on fighting the system or paying to go privately.  But to make this choice we should be given the facts, and let’s hope Mike Richards pulls his finger out and gets on with the review.

Here is an extract of Mitzi’s research, up on http://evenstarsexplode.wordpress.com/

*COCHRANE LEAFLET: screening for breast cancer with mammography http://www.cochrane.dk/screening/mammography-leaflet.pdf


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National Cancer Outcomes Conference

National Cancer Intelligence Network


The N.C.I.N. organised this conference, which was held at Birmingham’s N.E.C,.

This was a brave attempt at involving patients and professionals equally.  However, it did prove that medical professionals may pay lip service to ‘involving’ patients, but often, in reality, have difficulty in addressing this issue.

Paying lip service
The aim of the conference was laudable;  patients were to be treated as equals.  In fact, we were even given free accommodation and free travel if we were a genuine patient.

However, the professionals were still being condescending, and not quite up to sharing information equally.

But patients are used to this, and we all got useful information from the event.  Out of around 500 delegates, probably one fifth were patients, so we weren’t overwhelmed!

Speakers were generally excellent, and as other delegates confirmed, they didn’t ‘talk down’ to us. They spoke enthusiastically, and didn’t use too much jargon!

Ray Murphy, Chairman of the National Cancer Partnership Forum kicked off with the chilling statement :

“we needed to save 5,000 liver patients’ lives a year just to keep up with Europe”.

Dr. Mick Peake, from the N. C.I.N. said there was a need to enthuse doctors to use cancer data to change clinical practice as it is currently.

As Dr. Natalie Blencower stated, when she gave an excellent presentation about outcomes and why they are important to patients AND surgeons, a recent survey had found that “patients were still not receiving enough information”.

What’s happening in Europe?
Proving that the N.C.I.N. are not only concerned about the EU’s better cancer outcomes, but were keen to do something about it – a major session saw Dr Jane Hanson, Lead Advisor for Cancer, Welsh Government & Head of Cancer National Specialist Advisory Group Core Team, introduce a session entitled  ‘Towards a European cancer information system; the EUROCOURSE project and beyond”.

This was followed by presentations from Harry Comber, Director, Irish National Cancer Registry on ‘ Cancer survival in Europe’: “first results from the EUROCARE-5 study.

Dr Roberta De Angelis, Senior Researcher, National Centre of Epidemiology, Italian National Institute of Health talked about ‘The International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership (ICBP),  and Dr Martine Bomb, Programme Manager, Cancer Research UK  gave the UK perspective.

These were all excellent speakers, but one couldn’t help wishing that more time had been allotted, to enable the very interested audience to have an opportunity to ask questions and get a good dialogue going.  A packed room was filled with delegates eager to ask questions – but sadly not enough time to get them out.

One piece of information that was flashed onto the screens was a slide showing where  research was being carried out in Europe:

10 work packages have been produced, covering

  1. WP1 Exchange of knowledge about national programmes
  2. WP2 Ethical conduct of research
  3. WP3 Tools for improving the quality, coverage and use of cancer registration data in Europe
  4. WP4 The development, harmonization, analysis and exchange of European cancer registry data
  5. WP5 Interface of cancer registries with cancer screening programmes
  6. WP6 Interface of cancer registries with clinical care
  7. WP7 Interface of cancer registries with biobanks
  8. WP8 Dissemination of findings and training
  9. WP9 European cancer control summit
  10. WP10 Coordination of EUROCOURSE activities

Perhaps next year there might be more time to discuss these work packages, and a hand-out giving contact details?

Poster Displays

Whilst browsing this very interesting and colourful display, I came across Marina Raime, the lively founder of Betterdays cancer care.  Marina went to the States and took one of their Patient Navigation courses, and is now running a programme in London – supported by Lambeth, Southark and other NHS offices.  Let’s hope this programme receives a lot of support, as we could certainly do with the survivorship assistance that seems to be the norm in the U.S.A.  www.betterdays.uk.com or at King’s College:  www.selbreastscreening.org.uk 


It is not acceptable in this day and age for the catering at a conference dealing with cancer, to go against al the advice to eat healthily, organically, etc.

At breakfast, a casual remark to the waiter “are the eggs free range?”, bought out
an embarrassed, “no, we don’t serve free-range eggs any more.

It was difficult during the main meals to find free-range chicken meat either – instead there were bland palid looking main dishes – which cried out for herbs.

Neither is it acceptable in this day and age for the Maintenance crew to spend more time in guests’ bedrooms than the paying guest.  The final straw in my room, where I had almost got used to sharing the room with the friendly maintenance man, was to have to call the poor man yet again as water was dripping loudly on my carpet and soaking the area.

I can’t help feeling that a professional organiser might be usefully employed – ordinary delegates to professional conferences demand better facilities and services for their payments – but when a charity or the NHS is picking up the tab – perhaps standards are allowed to drop.  Even though, from comments from staff, it didn’t seem that this conference had got any cheap deals.

Certainly a normal ‘business’ hotel wouldn’t get away with charging £15 PER DAY for Internet access in a delegate’s room.

On Friday evening after the conference was over, a local friend took me to a superb hotel near-by: Hampton Manor, to show me what could be done for the same basic costs.  She works in conference and exhibition organising, so knows what’s what.

Hampton Manor provided a superb meal – and I noticed all the a la carte menu prices were less than those in the Hilton’s main restaurant.  Yes, organisers would have negotiated a cheap deal but basic prices are ones which to work from when negotiating.

Prices at this hotel were a rack rate of £150 per night – although they had special deals
from £85.  Sadly it would be too small for a major conference, but if they can do it – why
not search for other hotels that can deliver same superb service?

But as usual Virgin Trains had come up with excellent deals, and speaking to others with disabilities, we had welcomed the way there always seems a cheerful staff member on hand to help with luggage – much appreciated!

The next Cancer Outcomes Conference will take place on the 13th and 14th June, 2013..

National Cancer Intelligence Network  (NCIN)

18th Floor, Portland House,

Bressenden Place



Phone: 020 8282 6258

Fax: 020 7869 8191

E-mail: enquiries@ncin.org.uk


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Breakthrough – latest reseach in cure for cancer

What happens to YOUR donation?



This week, three major pieces of research have been published which change the way we think about breast cancer.


All have been funded in part by funds people like you have donated to Breakthrough Breast Cancer, with involvement from two of their key scientists, Professors Jorge Reis-Filho and Andrew Tutt.

British success story

It is good to report on a British success;  when Cameron and Lansley constantly bang on about how much better other countries are at treating cancer, they forget to mention that British research institutes such as Cancer Research UK are way up there at the top of the world.

Now Breakthrough’s research team has announced ground-breaking findings about Breast Cancer,  and their research revealed:

1. Nine new genes which drive the development of breast cancer – ahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcrVUJvKA1E&feature=relmfureatment before her cancer progresses.

3. A previously unknown process that happens to the cells in the body and which is a driver in breast cancer development. By understanding this process we hope to be able to create targeted treatments in the future which, for example, might be able to stop the cancer from developing.

The ramifications of this work in terms of how we diagnose, treat and prevent the disease are potentially huge. You can read more about these on Breakthrough’s website


Their work shows how far they have come since Breakthrough was founded 20 years ago. But it also shows how important it is that funds are raised to enable them to carry on their work, until we all reach a point when breast cancer is a disease which is no longer life-threatening.

If you are reading this, and have contributed to Breakthrough, it’s good to know your support has been vital in helping them get this far. It is now needed more than ever, so they can build on the exciting breakthroughs like those reported this week.

Christ Askew of Breakthrough says “Thank you so much for your continued support. I really do believe that this news takes us further towards ending the fear of breast cancer”.


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Europa Donna





More than 3,000 breast cancer specialists and advocates attended the 8th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-8) in Vienna, Austria from 21-24 March.

Topics such as survivorship and the benefits of lifestyle interventions also took the floor. EUROPA DONNA  in partnership with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and the European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists (EUSOMA) hosted the conference, where physicians and advocates alike heard the latest findings on best practice in mammography screening, specialist breast unit implementation and accreditation, imaging techniques, surgical and drug therapy, lifestyle measures, and specific populations such younger women, older women and those with metastatic disease.

What is Europa Donna?

EUROPA DONNA (ED) – The European Breast Cancer Coalition, is an independent, non-profit organisation whose members are affiliated groups from countries throughout Europe. ED works to raise public awareness of breast cancer and to mobilise the support of European women in pressing for improved breast cancer education, appropriate screening, optimal treatment and care and increased funding for research.  Member countries currently number 46, from Albania to Uzbekistan.

EUROPA DONNA Past President Bettina Borisch reminded participants of the need for further advocacy for mammography screening and breast unit implementation: “We know that in breast units, team work is essential, but it is not easy. A European specialist breast unit accreditation scheme must be implemented so that patients know where they can go for optimum care.”

Prof. Borisch also mentioned “professional tribalism”, i.e., the reluctance of some professionals to work together. Lesley Fallowfield, of the University of Sussex, emphasised the importance of a well-functioning, communicative multidisciplinary team, for the benefit of the members and their patients.  In Britain we find that David Cameron and Andrew Lansley constantly echo that cancer treatment is better in some European countries, but there are no plans to open wider co-operation across the English Channel.

Dutch Research

Presenting the 20-year results from the Dutch national breast cancer screening programme, which now includes women aged 50-75, Jacques Fracheboud from Erasmus Medical Centre said that the programme has contributed to a decrease in breast cancer mortality, and that its benefits outweigh all the potential negative effects. A study presented later by his colleague Rianne de Gelder estimated that in 2008, adjuvant treatment reduced breast cancer deaths by almost 14%, while biennial screening reduced deaths by almost an additional 16%.


In a first ever session dedicated to “survivorship”, Julia Rowland of the U.S. National Cancer Institute described how advocacy in her country led to the creation of the Office of Cancer Survivorship, of which she is the director. With the growing population, and the fact that due to early detection the vast majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer can expect to live beyond 5 years, research and attention must be focussed on the issues concerning this population. She added that the transition to recovery can be stressful for both the woman and her family, and long-term effects of treatment such as fatigue need to be addressed. ED members Mojca Miklavi and Ingrid Kössler then gave moving accounts of their personal experience with survivorship and advocacy.

There was also promising news for younger women. Hatem Azim of the Jules Bordet Institute presented trial results showing that pregnancy is not only safe after breast cancer, it might have a protective effect.

Lifestyle factors

In a well-attended, early morning ED Teaching Lecture, Isabelle Romieu, Head of the Section of Nutrition and Metabolism at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, covered the lifestyle factors that could help in preventing breast cancer. She said that research is now targeted at identifying the subgroups of breast cancer types that could benefit from certain lifestyle interventions.

She reiterated that minimal alcohol consumption, avoiding obesity, eating a low-fat, high-fibre diet and avoiding sweet drinks could help to reduce breast cancer risk. Many of these are the messages of ED annual Breast Health Day campaign, which was outlined by Susan Knox, ED’s Executive Director. Lifestyle was also the topic of a lively Oxford Debate.

A further study presented by Dutch experts indicated that cognitive behavioural therapy and physical exercise can have beneficial effects on treatment-induced menopausal symptoms. In an additional study presented by Jennifer Ligibel from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, women who were overweight or obese at the time of diagnosis were found to have a higher risk of recurrence and a shorter survival than their leaner counterparts.

Metastatic Breast Cancer

A ED session focussed on advocating for the unaddressed needs of women with metastatic breast cancer, who often feel marginalised in current breast care facilities. A panel discussion followed regarding the metastatic setting content to be included in the next edition of the European Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis.

The next conference

EBCC-9 is to be held 19-21 March 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.  Make a date to go to this, as delegates will be able to hear from a similar group of experts, many of whom have much to offer cancer care and survivorship in Britain.

More information on the conference is available through the European Cancer Organisation (ECCO), and the conference abstracts are available online.

EUROPA DONNA – The European Breast Cancer Coalition
Piazza Amendola, 3
20149 Milan, Italy
Tel: +39 02 3659 2280
Fax: +39 02 3659 2284
Email: info@europadonna.org     Website: www.europadonna.org

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Cancer Survivors' event to be held in London


 Monday, March 26th 2012

 Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall, Small Hall

 3 – 7 pm

 Cancer Survivors often speak of feeling  ‘abandoned’ once they leave hospital.  This Event aims to show survivors that there are organisations, services and people out there willing and ready to offer help and advice’  improving quality and wellbeing of life for survivors after cancer.

This is a FUN event with a serious purpose – to show cancer survivors, carers, nurses, medical staff, doctors etc. just what is available in the Borough.

Local Companies have donated spot prizes and raffle prizes ~

first was Chelsea FC Foundation with a football signed by their players


Stalls on :

–       Rare Cancers         Prostate Cancer     Breast Cancer         Cancer Support centres

       Free Prescription information stall     Financial advisory stalls  –   Welfare Benefits department (DWP)

–       Citizens advice bureau            Macmillan               Cancer champions

–       Advocacy advisory groups (e.g. Age concern, Advice now, RBKC, Welfare directory)

–       Travel Insurance           Skin care products          Cook and taste demonstration session- Nutritionist

–       Reflexology         Equipment specialist          Lingerie           Health trainer and exercise advice

 –       Medical Tattoos. Wigs  – and more.    (Warning – due to other commitments if a stall can’t participate, we have others to take their pla

Organisers:  Verite Reily Collins,   Paula Murphy, Ijeoma Igwama, Gaenor Holland Williams

Information : http://www.Rbkclink.org or www.after-cancer.com

English: Kenneth Ferrie's golfbag, detail: Flo...

Daffoidils spell Spring Wikipedia

Or contact; Ijeoma Igwume at http://www.kclink@hestia.org


0208 969 4852


Or :  Verite Reily Collins 020 7351 4434  verite@greenbee.net









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Britain Against Cancer Conference disappoints

Expectations were high ~

but didn’t deliver


Last year the audience was full of enthusiasm at the APPGC Britain Against Cancer Conference.                                      Delegates participated, learnt, exchanged views and sessions provided plenty  of  food for thought.

But  this year the formula has changed.  Instead of lively debates, we were asked to ‘submit questions in advance’ and had to endure the one-hour-get-it-all-in-module.

This is so 1980s, and it’s about time Macmillan (who now run this group), realised that people who come to their conferences don’t need trendy management tricks.  These are stuck in a time-warp, but unfortunately still used by some companies to run training courses for charities etc.    The formula worked 30 years ago, but we have moved on from there, and people no longer need encouragement to participate – it’s keeping their questions short that is the problem.  Una used to run this conference, and she realised that when you gather together MPs, Charity Executives and informed patients, you are going to get a useful dialogue going by just letting them get on with exchanging ideas.

Patient Voice in local, regional and national NHS decisions.

Baroness Masham was an excellent chair for this session, and her speaker was Angela Coulter from Dept. Health at University of Oxford.  But they were both up against time restrictions, and when the audience tried to ask questions the Baroness regretfully had to say there wasn’t time.

Ms Coulter produced an up-beat analysis of what the Health Bill might do, showing a positive side to the pages of blurb, which made some sense. She said she thought nothing much would change in the NHS, (was this because she knows the NHS doesn’t like change?),  and “Patients are the greatest resource we have”.

Talking over the clauses in the Bill, she said there should not be an exclusive focus on a single disease;  what patients want is well-co-ordinated holistic care.  Politicians haven’t done much explaining about what’s going to happen with this Bill, and Lansley hasn’t made this clear to NHS staff – yet.

Then, when we would all have like to question Ms Coulter, who seemed brimming with sensible advice, we were split up into the dreaded round tables to come up with ‘ideas’ .

We were given case studies to read (impossible – there was no time), and Breakthrough Breast Cancer,  who had been asked to organise the session, admitted they had been told to keep everything short – but then told they had to include speakers, workshop session, case study and wrap-up – all to be completed in 60 minutes.  This was a complete waste of Breakthrough’s time and expertise, and did no favours to the knowledgeable audience, all of whom could have been better employed questioning the Baroness and Ms Coulter, and gathering some of their expert opinions.

After all, the Baroness was off that afternoon to put forward an ammendment to the Health Bill in the House of Lords  – which we would have all liked to hear more about from someone at the sharp end.

There were murmurs around tables about ‘not enough time’.  One can only imagine that the huge Macmillan HQs cupboards are bursting with all the sheets of A1 paper they love to distribute for table ‘hosts’ to fill in. But come up with anything concrete – no.  Let’s hope that Macmillan will throw out the old formulas and bring in up-to-date debates, similar to previous conferences.

Panel Discussion

The afternoon started with a panel discussion from Prof. Sir Mike Richards, Prof. Steve Field and Dr. Frank Atherton, President of the Assn. of Directors of Public Health.

Mike Richards repeated the usual mantra about how we lag behind Europe in cancer survival.  Well, it’s about time the Dept. Health, National Cancer Action Team and Uncle Tom Cobley got on with doing something – not just talking.

Eurostar runs a slick service to the Continent;  there are plenty of low cost airlines zipping across the 21 miles of Channel, yet no-one seems to be running any exchange programmes – let alone asking patients if they would like to go for treatment to see and compare what is different and what could easily be copied.

Because treatment in Europe is not all about expensive drugs or equipment (although these are available), but much more about the approach to treating patients holistically.

But during the panel’s speaches, instead of being told of ‘goodies’ that were coming on-stream, we were treated to old but shocking statistics, such as  a quarter of cancer patients present as Emergencies;  plus the fact that GI Endoscopies were at the bottom of the table when it came to investigations.  We know this – let’s know what’s going to improve from a patients’ point of view.

The conference was supposed to be about Achieving Quality, and Getting cancer services right in the new NHS.  The only practical advice seemed to be Dr. Atherton’s four points:

  1. Health and Wealth Boards – get them to focus on cancer
  2. Better information about benchmarking
  3. Need to look at pathways in much greater degree
  4. and importance of Networking

The comments from the platform could have spiked a lively discussion.  Instead the audience had been asked to submit their questions in advance, and organisers had chosen selected ones.  Afterwards a patient went up to Mike Richards to say she felt frustrated.  She heard a lot about ‘patient involvement’, but whenever she tried to get involved, she seemed to be sent off in another direction, or not given any details as to how she could get involved.


The exhibition was well thought out, with interesting tables and staff eager to talk and inform.  I met Krish Shastri, the insurance guru, and we had a long discussion on how neither medical insurance companies nor oncologists let patients know that their insurance for cancer-related illness may well run out after five years.  Leaving patients floating around, either paying for themselves, or having to find ‘new’ doctors as their doctors were seeing them privately.

There was a real buzz in the room, and it showed that when you get a large group of intelligent people interested in cancer, there is a lot to be learnt from listening to them, and debating.

Let’s hope the conference goes back to that formula next year.

Deja Vue

Chillingly, reading my report on this conference last year I had mentioned that Andrew Lansley had placed great emphasis on ‘using the voluntary sector’ to a much greater extent.  Well, it was evident that Macmillan has got into bed very firmly with the Dept. Health/NHS – but is this what the volunteers who support this great charity really want?





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Laugh 'til it Heals

Christine K. Clifford

comes up with

another winner


Never one to miss a good opportunity to laugh whilst having cancer treatment, Christine Clifford believes in a certain Dr. Siegel, who said,

“show me a patient who is able to laugh and play… and I will show you someone who is going to live longer”.

And throughout her new book she comes up with one-liners, two-liners and lots-of-liners that make you laugh out loud, from

Shouldn’t they call it a HERSterectomy?

to one that pokes gentle fun at doctors who consider themselves superior beings, via a description of The Pope:

His Holiness is at the Pearly Gates, not best pleased at having to wait in line.  He sees a man with a stethoscope walk to the head of the queue, and to his astonishment he is let in before everyone else.

He demands to know why the Guardian Angel allows doctors in before him.

The Angel answers, “that was no doctor.  That was God.  He just liked to pretend he is a doctor”.

And whenever you come across one of those pompous beings, I can promise you you will remember Christine’s story – and smile.

Or there was the woman who woke up and thought she was dead.  Why?  Because nothing hurts.  (We can all smile at that).  Or I let out a loud laugh when I read about the woman who insisted she wanted Whoopee cushions placed on the pews at her funeral.

Laughing all the way – that’s the best medicine.

Laugh ’til it Heals  by Christine K. Clifford





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Christmas appeal for children with cancer in Kenya

What’s going on

                                                                                   in Nairobi

Childhood Cancer Initiative Kenya is appealing for

Christmas donations


The appeal is to help purchase a Medical Evacuation Van for Patient-Care Support

Childhood cancer patient-care support is increasingly playing a major role in bridging the huge gap in access to cancer patient-care in low-resource settings.

High rates of cancer-related deaths along with poor outcomes often resulting in lifelong complications among childhood cancer patients, is slowly being checked by a responsive patient-care support service.

Childhood Cancer Initiative Kenya, which pioneered cancer-house services in Kenya as a practical means of lessening the burden of cancer, is presently making an effort to strengthen its patient-care support programme and is appealing for donations to enable it purchase a quick response medical van.

Anyone wishing to donate can contact:

Bank name:             Family Bank Branch: Sonalux House, Moi Avenue, Nairobi
Bank address:             P. O. Box 74145 – 0200 Nairobi, Kenya

Account name:             Childhood Cancer Initiative
Account holder address:     P. O. Box 8811 Nairobi 00300 Kenya.
Account number:         003347616101

SWIFT:                 FABLKENA

Hands across the world

One important aspect of cancer care is the way people around the world make contact,

to share ideas,

discuss treatments

and just talk and let others know they are not alone.

Joseph Omach, Administrator at the Cancer Research & Communications Organization in Nairobi, Kenya emails me to tell me more about the milestones achieved by the Childhood Cancer Initiative!

“It is a great house and parents and children  must have such a relief after covering long distances to Nairobi in search of treatment for their children. Our gratitude to the Love for Children UK for supporting such a worthy cause.

A worthy aspiration shared by many, and especially in Addis Ababa where many children are brought over long distances to access the only cancer treating hospital in Ethiopia” .

Love for Children UK

After a great deal of work with their partner,  Love For Children UK, Joseph says, “we have finally established a cancer-house for childhood cancer patients in Nairobi .

Apart from free accommodation and upkeep for childhood cancer patients, LFC Nairobi Cancer-house is set to provide for basic educational needs as well as psycho-social support to both patients and their families.

While we are working towards the official opening of the facility, the cancer-house is now operational.








Childhood Cancer Initiative
Suite 15 , APA Insurance Arcade
Hurlingham Shopping Centre, Nairobi

Tel:  +254 202113807    Mobile : +254 735944238

P. O. Box 8811 – 00300
Nairobi , Kenya .

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Speaker surprised that cancer patient reads medical textbooks

Lively debate at Centre’s AGM

Dr Lauren Pecorino was the speaker at the AGM  at Paul’s Cancer Support Centre in Battersea, London.

The oldest cancer support centre in Britain, but thoroughly modern in its approach to supporting cancer survivors; offering support by Skype, and its famous Healing Journey course online.

Lauren Pecorino was talking about her book, Why Millions Survive Cancer: The Successes of Science – and this produced a fascinating dialogue between her and the centre’s President, cancer guru Karol Sikora – who always has a patient-focussed reply to questions, although sometimes medics don’t like this!

Lauren focused on big improvements worldwide in survival rates for many cancers and she believes that these improvements mean that “our attitude towards cancer now needs drastic change”.

It was fascinating to hear her comments, mixing research from UK and also the States – something so many medics in Britain ignore (at our peril).  “Cancer is something we can live with,”  she said.  There was no ‘lecturing’, rather plenty of time for the audience to ask thoughtful and pertinent questions, and receive helpful replies.

Five a Day

Five a Day is “a good marketing slogan”, she admitted;  but people could eat more.  Lauren  came out on the side of eating fruit and vegetables, and taking physical exercise.  Although she says there is some evidence that this decreases the risk of some cancers, what was more important was to lead a healthy life, so if we had cancer we were better equipped to survive.

As Principal Lecturer at the University of Greenwich’s School of Science, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, she started her talk by saying she was surprised when a patient told her he had read her medical text book;  but many in the audience agreed that today, patients have to be familiar with cancer textbooks, as many doctors don’t have the knowledge when treating us.

When she suggested we should follow Michelle Obama’s example, and plant a vegetable garden;  this gave me a wonderful vision of the present Government doing a U-turn, scrapping plans to concrete over our countryside, and instead encourage as many as possible to plant a kitchen garden.  Dream on!

Sikora mentioned visiting Laos, where medical care was basic, and chickens wandered around underfoot – yet the care given to patients by supporting families was exemplary.

Ethnic Diets

One of the audience asked about ethnic diets – was there any particular good/bad cuisine?  Lauren thought not, although mentioned that the Mediterranean Diet was probably acknowledged to be the healthiest.  It came out that only about 8% of Italian food shopping takes place in a supermarket!

As usual, the Centre offered excellent food as part of the AGM, and it was lovely to see beautifully presented, healthy food – with lots of emphasis on raw vegetables (although there wwwwas chocolates for greedy visitors like me!)

Another questioner asked about Organic food, and it came out that there is little research on this – possibly because this food is mostly grown by small farmers, without the mega-budgets of the supermarkets.  Information on stress was another ‘popular’ question, and again not much evidence, but Sikora said it couldn’t help when people were recovering.

What the Centre offers

The Centre’s dedicated team under Petra Griffiths were warmly congratulated, and mention was made of their unique Home Visits service, where patients too ill to travel were visited at home, for everything from support, to wonderful massages and other therapies.

Macmillan had a last funded the Information Centre at St. George’s Hospital, run by Beverley van der Molen, who manages to split her time between St. George’s and the Centre,

Last year there had been 2,044 counselling sessions and therapy sessions booked, 69 attended training courses, 977 well-being educational sessions, and if that isn’t enough, Bridget Cambridge, the Development Officer, is about to tackle the winter Nice to Cannes Marathon in aid of Centre funds (very badly needed).  If you want to sponsor Bridget you can donate by text:  PCSC11 followd by the amount (up to max. £10) to 70070.

The AGM was, as usual a lively event, with lots of audience participation;  it was fun seeing and talking to old friends such as Dani Bannerjee (the first Trustee I ever met from the Centre), Claire Morgan (who helped me write my book on Inflammatory Breast Cancer), and the indefatigable Lynn Leadbetter, who works tirelessly to raise funds for the Centre.

Paul’s Cancer Support Centre:  www.paulscancersupportcentre.org.uk

22, York Road, London SW11 3QA   020-7924 3924


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