by Charlotte Stevenson
Current student Charlotte Stevenson reflects on the weekend’s 2018 World Cancer Day and what this means to her. She speaks of the importance of raising awareness.
When my granddad was first diagnosed with terminal cancer, we were told that he would have only a few weeks to live. This was incredibly shocking to me and my family. The fact that this form of illness could conceal itself so well by remaining invisible until it was at an untreatable stage, was beyond anything we could fully comprehend. The next 18 months were the most difficult of my life and they continue to impact me to this day. But, and this is so important to note, my granddad actually lived for 18 months, and not for the few weeks that the doctors had expected. This was only because of the amazing work of staff at The Christie in Manchester and St. Anne’s Hospice, who provided him with treatment and kindness, and all of us with hope, comfort and support.
World Cancer Day holds great meaning to me. Cancer changed the lives of myself and my family. In using this time to spotlight awareness around the illness, we hope to help others who find themselves in the same situation we did, and prevent cancer by increasing self-checking statistics. Upon that initial diagnosis the shock was partly due to the fact that my granddad had always eaten healthily, exercised regularly and been seemingly fighting fit. There were no visible symptoms during that period, other than what seemed to be a cold. Before this point, we had very little idea of what cancer was, how it worked, and what treatments were available. It seemed a faraway tragedy that happened to other people and not to us – until it did happen to us.
In the light of World Cancer Day, I urge you to take the time to educate yourself and talk to others about what cancer is. Find out how to get tested and how you can help share the global burden this illness is responsible for. Whether it be sharing your own story with someone, volunteering at your local hospice or organising a fundraising, you have the ability to make a difference. It does not matter how small that contribution is, it will always be significant to those like myself and the millions of others who find themselves in the midst of one of the most difficult things anyone could go through.
I miss my granddad more every day and there are countless others who will be raising awareness and commemorating the loved one they have lost to cancer. We need to spread this message. To assist cancer treatment, and research-based charities, will ensure that one day no one will have to lose someone to cancer ever again. Making this information accessible is of the utmost importance in saving thousands of lives every year. Together we can make a difference. We can. I can.