Saturday, 24 September 2011

Fighting Cancer - why it is important

There are many reasons I write a blog. Strange as it may seem, probably the most important one is to try and make the world a little bit better. I'm an advocate of the "Think global, act local" school of thought, which is why I generally concentrate my efforts on Barnet. I realised that it would be extremely hard for a blogger to have much impact on national issues, but it would be relatively easy to have a big impact on local issues. This blog is not about the issues we normally cover. It is about something, in many ways far more important. As I write this, there are families all over Barnet struggling to cope with the effects of cancer. One of these families is that of Councillor Lynne Hillan, until recently the leader of Barnet Council. She is one of many victims of cancer in Barnet. Whilst we may have views on peoples politics, I'd sincerely hope that everyone in Barnet thinks it's a tragedy when anyone has to retire due to illness.

Let me share with you the horrible role cancer has played in my life and why I am trying my hardest to promote the Shine London Nighttime Marathon being staged for Cancer Research UK

I first became aware of cancer when I was eight years old. At the time I was a successful child model. I'd been the star of several very well known TV adverts, including Heinz Beans, Cadburys chocolate, Galaxy Chocolate, Lucozade and Dream Topping. I think I'm the only Barnet blogger who has been photogrpahed by David Bailey. My career came to an abrupt halt when my mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1970. When it was diagnosed, she was told that her chances of living more than 3 years were 5%. Fortunately, she did survive and made a complete recovery from a total gastrectomy.  In 1984, her consultant, Phillip King, told her that she was the only person he was aware of who survived for more than 5 years after the procedure she underwent. It was a huge cloud over our lives in my formative years. When my father broke the news to us, it was the only time in my life I ever saw him cry. Sadly my mothers resilience in the face of the disease gave me a completely false belief that the disease could easily be triumphed.

Shortly after my mother recovered, a friend of my parents developed a similar condition. We were invited around to see him. He gave me a fantastic fishing rod and explained "I won't be needing this now, so you can have it". Six months later he was dead.  My godmother succumbed to lung cancer shortly after. The lady who used to clean our house (who I always thought of as my de facto grandma), Mrs O'Keefe passed away, riddled with the disease. All of these before I left school. In my twenties, both of my mums brothers died of Cancer, within six months of each other. My best friend and the bass player in my band's dad developed lung cancer. He was lucky, he only lost his lung. His wife died of Lung cancer several years later. In 2001 my business partner at the studio, who was married with three children under 7 contracted pancreatic cancer. When he was first diagnosed he was 6'6" and 22 stone. Eight months later, he was 12 stone. He was still 6'6" if he stood on his left leg, but if he stood on his right leg, he was only 5'6" as it had been amputated below the knee. His eldest son has never really got over losing his dad. Three years ago my mother in law contracted lung cancer. She was told in January 2008 and died in March. In her final days, I went to see her. She was crying. She told me she'd had a dream that she was well and she was having a lovely time. She'd then woken up and realised she was not well at all, she was dying. It was a truly heartbreaking moment.

And here we are today. Please do something for me. Click on the play button, for this clip. Shut your eyes and listen to the tune and think (pray if that's your thing) of all your friends and family who you may have lost to Cancer. Then read on.

This piece of music was written by my great friend and former bassplayer in my band Paul Hircombe. Paul is a truly talented musician. He was planning to get married & sort himself out, having had a torrid time in the last few years. In April, he had just been offered a job and was about to start, when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer (as mentioned above his parents both had brushes with the disease). Paul is 46 and is currently undergoing his last bout of chemo. God willing, he will have the tumour removed, if it has shrunk sufficiently, in October. Paul has over the years helped me organise dozens of gigs for Cancer charities. We usually do an annual gig for MacMillan Cancer relief. We've even had Kate Nash on the bill (her mum Marie, who is a good friend of mine had a brush herself a few years back, fortunately she's OK).

So what do you do when something attacks your friends, family and loved ones? Well I believe in fighting back. That is why my good lady wife, Clare, has decided to do the Shine nightime walking marathon in aid of Cancer Research UK. I'd love to be the person who invented a cure for cancer, but I'm too thick. I'm not too thick to help raise cash for those that can. If you can spare anything at all, be it  £1, £2, £5, £10, £20, £30 or £50 please donate something by clicking this link.

We are extremely lucky to live in an age where we have scientists who can develop vaccines and cures for diseases such as cancer. Whether they do it today, tomorrow or in a hundred years time, will largely be dictated by how much people such as you and I can raise. If we all give generously and do our best to raise funds, then the day a cure is found moves closer. This means less people will lose their mums, dads, sons, daughters and friends. You may or may not like me, you may or may not like my blog. What I am sure of is that you don't like the effects of Cancer. I urge you to sponsor this appeal as generously as you can.

There is more info here about the event -

Thanks to everyone who has helped out so far. With the gift aid top up, it stands at £347.99 as of now (Sat 24th Spetember at 7.30) - Our target is to get this up to £500 by next Saturday when Clare does the marathon. Please help.

No comments: