I am now back home after a couple of days with the team at Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Every year they invite local and group voluntary representatives to an annual conference in their London office. During the conference we listened to presentations about the charity and in particular their incredible research work that they have done over the previous year and are conducting in to both treatment and prevention of breast cancer. We are asked for our feedback and participate in workshops about the charity, their work and also felt our input was valued.
Breakthrough’s pioneering work of PARP inhibitors has now led to over 50 clinical trials being instigated around the world and potentially could make a big difference for many thousands of cancer patients, not only for breast cancer. Wouldn’t it be a fantastic world if less people were ever diagnosed in the first place? Particularly on a week when it is announced that the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer has risen from one woman in nine to one in eight in the UK.
Breakthrough also do some great work with their campaigning to make everyone ‘breast aware’ – as you know this is something that I never did and following my finding a lump will never know how long it had actually been there or perhaps if I’d found it earlier would it have been benign not malignant? Simple – early detection saves lives. Information can be found here and they even have a helpful iPhone app that will remind you to check and show you how.
I also learnt more about their campaigning and advocacy work. Particularly key given the new changes proposed under the new government to the NHS and something that Breakthrough continue to lobby, discuss and challenge with the Government to ensure that breast cancer remains on the political agenda.
At the risk of sounding like my own party political broadcast for Breakthrough, they do an incredible job but always need support. That support maybe helping with lobbying, writing to your MP, keeping up to speed with changes, knowing about research, sponsorship and fundraising or simply telling others how to be breast aware. Often Breakthrough may slip down the ‘charity awareness’ scale because they prefer to spend their big bucks on research rather than advertising (and I know that’s where I’d like them to spend their money too), but they do play a vital role. So if you have the opportunity please support them.
Also in attending the conference I am once again reminded by the passion and drive of people wanting to make a difference. There were men and women at the conference who had been affected by breast cancer. Each and everyone had their own story. But one thing that everyone had in common was passion for life. I’m honoured to meet with people like this and touched by each and every one.