Now that we are living longer, almost half of us will suffer from cancer at some point in our lifetimes. The good news is that in most cases this is no longer a death sentence – more than half of those affected now survive, and that proportion is growing. The reason is that, thanks to research, we now understand cancer better than ever. But despite the fact that everyone values such research, there’s never enough money to go round. You can help by doing a fundraising drive together with friends or family. Every donation makes a difference, and in time in could help you or your children too.
In the first half of the 20th Century, cigarettes were all the rage. A lot of people actually thought they were good for the health! Now, thanks to research, we know that they massively increase the risk of developing lung cancer. That’s just one example of the way that research is helping us make changes in our lives that mean fewer of us will get cancer in the first place. We now know to be careful in the sun to stay safer from skin cancer. We can vaccinate against human papilloma virus to reduce the risk of cervical cancer, and eat more fibre to reduce the risk of bowel cancer. Research like this can save millions of lives and spare a lot more people from suffering.
Where cancer can’t be prevented, it can often be caught early, thanks to the improved awareness of early symptoms that research is giving us. This makes it much easier to treat and often means that minor outpatient surgery is all that’s needed to cure it, rather than months of gruelling chemotherapy.
When it comes to chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgical procedures, cancer research done by leading charities is making them more effective and reducing the side effects. Better targeting of cancer cells reduces the damage to surrounding tissues, whilst an improved understanding of the nature of different cancers makes it easier to fight them. Brain cancer and leukaemia survival rates, for instance, have doubled over the past 40 years.
Ways of raising money
There are many ways you can help to raise money for charities doing work like this. Some of them can directly help you too – exercise reduces your risk of developing several cancers, so sponsored walks, runs, cycling trips or swims are a great choice. If this sounds like a bit much, you might be more at home organising a coffee morning, a bake sale or a jumble sale. Try engaging your local community through schools, religious centres or community groups. You could organise a social evening – anything from a beetle drive to a disco – to encourage people to donate.
Helping to fight cancer benefits everybody, because even those who escape it themselves will probably see loved ones suffer sooner or later. By increasing the pace of research, the money you raise could help create a better world for your children to grow up in – one where many common cancers are gone altogether and others require only the kind of mild treatment than once-fatal diseases like syphilis do today.