This team started as a group of cancer researchers based at the University of Leeds coming together to raise money for a very worthy cause. We are thrilled that a number of other colleagues have also joined us in this challenge as we all come together to beat cancer!
For those of us working in cancer research we have personally seen the devastating impact that the covid-19 pandemic has had on cancer services and cancer research. CRUK expects to lose £300million from fundraising over 3 years and this will have a massive effect on the amount of research that can be funded. With 1 in 2 people developing cancer over their lifetime we cannot afford to slow down in our efforts to fight this disease.
Lots of our team members have dedicated their careers to improving cancer outcomes with the ultimate aim of saving lives and CRUK has played a pivotal role in much of this work. If you are interested in reading more about our work this twitter thread is a good place to start: https://twitter.com/UniversityLeeds/status/1357364638980190215
However, we are not only taking on this challenge as cancer researchers. Cancer has also touched many of us in our personal lives and a few of us have chosen to share our stories below.
Anna’s story: My mum’s name was Rae and she died of breast cancer aged 54. At the time I was only 16 and losing her at that age is one of the hardest things that I have been through. She was brave, kind, compassionate and loved to feed everybody she met! At the time I had never heard of a clinical trial but quickly realised I would like a job where I could help others with cancer in one way or another. I am very proud to now work within the Leeds CRUK Clinical Trials Unit and to see how our work improves cancer treatment in a meaningful way. I am walking in her memory and in the hope that the future will bring fewer 16 year olds without a mum.
Julie's story: My best friend Sarah died from leukaemia aged 21 years old, 3 years after her initial diagnosis. Sarah was funny, kind and caring and it still hurts that her life was put on hold through treatment and ultimately cut short at a time that is normally for experiencing university, moving out and starting real adult jobs! For every life that can be saved due to advances in cancer research, that is one less family having to experience the devastating impact of losing a family member. I’ll be walking all over cancer in honour of Sarah and all families affected by cancer.
Sue's story: A week before Christmas and four weeks before his wedding, my brother was diagnosed with bowel cancer, aged 44. Two days after his wedding, when he and his wife should have been enjoying their honeymoon, he was in hospital having laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery to remove his tumour. When I first started working at the CTRU, I worked on a trial called CLASICC, looking at the safety of laparoscopic surgery compared with standard open surgery for colorectal cancer. This trial showed that laparoscopic surgery was safe and the results of this, and other similar trials, lead to the publication of NICE guidelines at the end of 2006, recommending laparoscopic surgery as an alternative to open surgery for colorectal cancer. Had my brother been diagnosed 6 months earlier, it’s likely that he would have had open surgery, involving a large incision and a lengthy recovery period. Today, because of trials like CLASICC, in the UK approximately 9000 additional patients per year are recovering quicker from surgery, spending less days in hospital and returning to normal activities several weeks earlier. It’s gratifying to know that the work we do plays an instrumental role in influencing healthcare policy in the UK and worldwide, benefitting patients. My brother made a full recovery and, 14 years later, is now the proud father of three beautiful daughters. The work we do really does make a difference and that’s why I’m walking all over cancer.
David's story: From a very early stage in my medical training I knew that I wanted to dedicate my career to improving the lives of cancer patients. For over three decades I became increasingly involved in research, mainly involving clinical trials, radiotherapy, anal and rectal cancer. During this time Cancer Research UK has funded the vast majority of my research and to put it simply I would not be sharing this story with you today without their support. At this particularly difficult time for cancer charities, I want to give back and Walk All Over Cancer. A career in cancer research Is hugely rewarding, but at the same time as a cancer doctor I can vividly recall many patients that I have treated over the years when our treatments were simply not good enough and the suffering and distress that this caused to patients and their friends and families. I can still see their faces. We need to do better. This is why I continue to dedicate my career to cancer research and it is a real privilege to work with such talented and dedicated people in Leeds exemplified by their stories on this team page and their support for Walking All Over Cancer.