As a tribute to Tessa Jowell, let’s campaign for better cancer treatment for all
There are complaints that breast cancer gets more attention, more funding and more research than prostate and other cancers.
But to be fair, it was women who came out and bravely announced they had breast cancer, in the days when you never mentioned the word.
An Army of women, particularly in the States, rose up and made breast cancer a priority – both for treatment and research. Suddenly, their bravery in overthrowing the taboos surrounding the disease started to get them better treatment, and money poured in for research.
The result was infinitely better treatment and awareness of cancer, both breast and the other 199 types. Women deserved their improved health care as they had fought for it.
Now it’s up to others to continue raising awareness, as the late Tessa Jowell did in the House of Lords for Brain tumours; however, even after her high-profile speech, instead of backing her, major charities such as Macmillan and Cancer Research UK left it to the brain cancer fraternity to take action, instead of coming out backing them.
Now she has sadly lost her fight for life, let’s hope as a fitting memorial ALL cancer charities will join together and redouble their efforts to help patients with is disease – whichever one of the 200 they have.
My attitude is ‘cancer is cancer’, whatever type it is. Awareness of one of the 200 cancers can only raise the profile, and attract funding which can help all.
To this day, no-one knows if it was breast cancer that killed my Granny – by the time my mother got it, her girl-friends were told she had it, but not the men. It wasn’t until I got breast cancer everyone could be told I had the disease – men and women.
Father had Prostate Cancer, but never told his friends – in fact refused even to talk to family, except to complain – loudly – about the doctors and nurses who were doing their best.
And it’s generally men, when they need to go to the doctor, who put it off – women will take themselves off much earlier – and cancer is a disease that is best treated early. My mother had breast cancer, and she got on with the treatment – Daddy had prostate, fought against seeing the doctor, refused to accept treatment, made a fuss, and argued with everything proposed. Men!
Looking back on the history of breast cancer treatment, it was the cosmetics queen, Estée Lauder, who was probably first VIP to throw her mega-company and millions of dollars behind the campaign to bring it out into the open. Today, in the States, John McEnroe, the tennis star, has fronted the efforts to bring Prostate Cancer out into the open – and it is the States that leads in this field.
Here in the UK we just don’t have the glamour and glitz of the US campaigning juggernaut. We hide or ignore everything we can, and only today I was gob-smacked when a noted medical figure pooh-poohed figures from the WHO, NAO etc. re our poor cancer outcomes, saying the NHS bears up when compared with rest of world. She implied that French, Germans, Australians, Americans etc. didn’t know how to gather figures – only the NHS did. But did question the late Tessa Jowell’s statement in the House of Lords; I could have told her that’s a no-no, and don’t even attempt to query those! Anyone who is going to make a statement in the Lords has to be pretty certain of their facts, or else be made to look a fool by their peers.
Hiding facts under the carpet isn’t helpful. We need to copy Americans and face facts head on, then rally the troops to do something to improve matters.
Americans run successful campaigns because they don’t aim for amorphous ideals (e.g. Save Our NHS – what can the average person do about that?) but instead set achievable goals for anyone in their local community – then work out from there. If ideas are good, eventually they spread out across the States – but they all start from small beginnings e.g. the pink ribbon started out as a tiny idea, and look how that spread.
What we could do in Britain
Wake up to reality, and men in particular have got to realise that Jeremy Hunt is a politician. He has been made Minister to ensure the Government can make savings in the overall budget, so even though a recent poll in the Daily Mirror said 74% are prepared to pay more for healthcare, this is not ooing to happen; the Weasel won’t risk his political career, or the potential long-term benefits. Men are going to have to copy the women, and fund raise themselves.
Ideas to fund raise
It is good that there are specific charities for different types of cancer, but they need to support each other, not fight over donations. By joining together they could be a powerful force to enlighten the British public to what needs to be done to improve care, especially for cancers such a prostate that affect men – notoriously bad at helping themselves healthwise!
We read that the latest footballer is being paid £600,000 a week! Yes, I know there will be loads of hangers-on with fingers in this massive pie. BUT – would it be such a great sacrifice to offer up just 1% of his fee to kick-start more research in to Prostate cancer treatment?
And what about targeting the whole football juggernaut? Every time a footballer is signed and promised a mind-boggling salary, would it hurt if the latest wonder boy said he was going to donate – !% for Prostate could be the rallying cry to kick-start a better outcome for prostate cancer patients.
Or use pubs, fishing events, golfing – anywhere where men gather – and use that time to plan fund-raising events. That’s what wmen did and do. We would love just to sit back and do nothing, but if we want better health we know we have to fight for it.
So get on and copy what we did!