Last Friday night, against my better judgement, I watched Stand Up to Cancer. Originally, I'd thought it was a things with comedians doing stand up in aid of cancer. I realised my mistake a couple of weeks back when I saw it was being hosted by, amongst others, Dr Christian Jesson, who is most definately not a comedian although his programme Embarrassing Bodies' may be construed as funny at times. I say against my better judgement because being in the "Cancer World" surely I have enough emotional problems of my own dealing with Niamh's cancer - never mind other peoples.
However, saying that, I tuned in because I wanted to see what the craic was - I'm a nosey cow at the best of times and i was interested to see what Cancer Research UK (CRUK) were going to rock up with. Actually it started off really well when Cheryl Cole's mic failed - unfortunately they put it on halfway through the song but by that point I'd settled in for the evening.
I wanted to do a little blog post about the show because it's bugged me a bit all weekend since - actually it's more than bugged me. I'm pretty angry about it. Don't get me wrong - cancer is bad in any way shape or form. I don't begrudge awareness being raised about any type of cancer because the beast must be snuffed out, but it must be proportionate.
The show had little 5 minute films about how various groups of people are affected when cancer enters their lives uninvited. I watched one and cried my eyes out as it concerned a girl who'd been for proton therapy just like Niamh. Another one soon after was about a gorgeous girl who died of a brain tumour. I shed quite a few tears and expected many more short films about all other types of cancers including adults however, I saw 5 films in total and 2 of them were about children. Sounds great - great in that it's raising awareness that KIDS GET CANCER TOO - not great that kids actually get cancer of course, but that's obvious. I thought - wow - now people are really going to see what we go through. This is real life - I smiled through my tears. It was plain to see the heartache the families were going through and continue to go through - just ordinary families. Normal families who need help - normal families like us.
Then it hit me, CRUK don't really seem to help families like us. Out of 5 films I saw, 2 were about children - that's 40%. Sounds like a high proportion of donated funds should go towards childhood cancer research doesn't it? Don't get your hopes up - it doesn't. Last year CRUK gave 2.4% of donated monies towards valuable childhood cancer research - 2.4%. Whilst I appreciate the fact that they were "raising the profile" of Childhood Cancers with those films - I did feel it was very misleading. There was no mention during the show of how much money they give to CC research instead we were allowed to watch short films that clearly tugged on the heartstrings of the nation - the cynical side of me says that they did it in order to get pledges in. I'm sure the donation phonelines were ringing off the hook, red hot after those films. I know many of my Facebook friends donated - maybe after seeing it and then just seeing the way cancer devastates the family from the inside out. Seeing a child with cancer is heartbreaking, it hits you like a brick. It's real! It seemed to me that the insinuation was that a lot of money is given to childhood cancer research but the reality is that it isn't. Proportion wise childhood cancers just do not have the numbers that the likes of breast cancer or lung cancer have. Those cancers get the lions share of monies - we barely get anything. Our voices as parents seem to fall on deaf ears other than our own.
I said before that I don't begrudge those other cancers hogging the limelight (so to speak) - success rates have rocketed recently and survival for breast cancer is at an all time high. I think this is wonderful - I really do, I'm not slagging off "breast cancer sufferers" - that's not what I'm trying to say. It's October now and rightly so, there is a sea of pink everywhere I go. Breast Cancer awareness is everywhere, but we don't get our sea of gold - gold is the colour of childhood cancer awareness. CRUK have made December Childhood cancer awareness month in the UK - ridiculous seeing as no one has any money to donate at Xmas. Us cancer parents want it to be in September like it is in the USA and Canada. So far, again this has fallen on deaf ears.
I'll finish up now, I just wanted to say my piece really just to let you all know that I felt that CRUK tried to tug at the nations heartstrings on Friday by showing children with cancer more than other cancers - purely it seemed to get donations in when proportion wise they don't follow it up by ploughing money into the research to get rid of those childhood cancers. It may be a cynical view, but it's my view.
Sorry if I offend anyone who's been affected by other cancers - it's an emotive issue. As I said, i am not having a go at other cancers - I'm aggrieved at Cancer Research UK. That's all.
On a lighter note, Niamh's birthday party tomorrow so I should be able to have a nicer more funpacked blog post next time.......