I was recently asked to be a guest speaker at a Breast Cancer Research fundraiser – a night out/auction/raffle for Tassie women called Breasts Out for Research. This event has been running for quite a few years now and has raised well over $100,000 for breast cancer research. Pretty impressive for little old Tassie. It is the brain child of breast cancer survivor Nicole Darcy, who says it is her strong sense of obligation to her 3 daughters – who have possibly inherited a higher vulnerability to breast cancer from her – that keeps her committed to organising these events each year. What an inspirational woman hey?
I was thoroughly honoured to be asked to speak, and in preparation I thought a lot about cancer and my thoughts on it. Like everyone, my life has been affected by cancer. My body has not itself been invaded by it, but my emotions have. And while my family members have fought it and won, I was at various times, worried sick, sad, anxious, terrified, sleepless, teary, despairing…and most of all angry. Even when officially released from its grip, it casts a show of fear. I can only imagine how it feels to those who have lost the battle, or have lost loved ones.
It might seem pointless to be angry with something that has no understanding of emotion, which cannot discriminate and who is just a dumb bunch of nasty cells, but angry I am, and the natural thing for me when angry is to hurl verbal abuse. So I did. I wasn’t a guest speaker at BOFR, I was a guest shouter. Well, some might call it singing but to me it was sort of a shouty sing, with guitar. I wrote a song in honour of my hate for cancer and then sang it. After my song-shout, I was thrilled to hear from some cancer survivors who agreed with my sentiments. One woman said she enjoyed treating cancer like the social outcast it should be. So if it made her feel better, then maybe it could make others feel better. So I thought I’d post it…
And now for a few recent cancer stats (thanks Cancer Council of Australia):
- An estimated 121,500 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia this year, with that number set to rise to 150,000 by 2020.
- 1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.
- Cancer is a leading cause of death in Australia – more than 43,000 people are estimated to have died from cancer in 2010.
- Nearly 15,000 more people die each year from cancer than 30 years ago, this is due mainly to population growth and aging. However, the death rate (number of deaths per 100,000 people) has fallen by 16%.
- More than 60% of people diagnosed with cancer in Australia will survive more than five years after diagnosis.
- The most common cancers in Australia (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) are prostate, colorectal (bowel), breast, melanoma and lung cancer.
- Around 434,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers each year, with 448 people dying in 2007.
- Cancer costs more than $3.8 billion in direct health system costs (7.2%).
- $378 million was spent on cancer research in 2000-01, 22% of all health research expenditure in Australia.
Phew, $378 million! Think what we could do with that if cancer were obliterated. Is that a possibility?
Well in 2009, President Obama (re-elected yesterday yay!) allocated $10 billion to the National Institues of Health (NIH) as part of the drive “to find a cure for cancer in our time”. In Australia alone, the survival rate for many common cancers has increased by 30 per cent in the past two decades. In addition to the improvement in cancer mortality rates, the Human Genome Project (a fearsomely tricky sounding process of determining the sequence of chemical base pairs which make up DNA) and other new areas of research project some promise in the ways in which cancer is diagnosed, treated, prevented and detected early.
It is thought that the key to cure lies in the targeting of specific cancer proteins – peculiar to each type. But many of these proteins are proven to be unaffected by approved drugs. Right, so these proteins are now known as the cockhead proteins.
So, there’s a ways to go it seems. We need more people like Nicole. I know abuse and bad taste doesn’t help really, not with cancer research. If you really want to deliver cancer a large can of whip ass you have you raise some funds for cancer research. That’s why I’m running a half marathon in January. If you like this facebook page you can help by: 1) regisiter as a team member and run with me (there are 5km, a 1km and a 42 km runs/walks too); 2) sponsor me to run or 3) just send me encouraging messages while I pound the pavements/roads/beach in training.
Sponsorship details (the easiest option) will be up on the page soon so please LIKE LIKE LIKE.
HELP KICK CANCER’s ARSE.