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Sunday 27th May 2018

The reality of cancer

12th March 2007

09032007_purplepoppy1.jpgA brief analysis of the body of content on hc2d reveals that cancer is by far the most written about subject on the website. Over thousands of articles, a search on cancer as a keyword produces twice as many hits as any other subject.

And that doesn't include cancer-related keywords like "lymphoma" or "leukaemia" or "malignant" or "neoplasm". Cancer - the Big C - is a big subject and one which consumes the daily lives of thousands and thousands of doctors, nurses, palliative care workers, epidemiologists and research scientists the world over.

Cancer generates lots of news. Just like Iraq, cancer is the story of a war being fought on many fronts. It is a battle of both mind and body with campaigns that are at once psychological, philosophical, emotional, physical and technological; a war being fought in hospitals, homes, hospices, laboratories, churches, mosques and street corners.

There are reports of advances, developments, advantages, discoveries, targets being hit and missed and frequent victories.

And there are casualties.

Mostly, on a personal level, the victims of cancer are like the casualties of war - statistics to be absorbed, the names of strangers we will never know. But in each of our lifetimes the impact of cancer will doubtless become more real to us. Because it affects real people - and those people are our friends and family. We will at some time all know the sense of loss, frustration and helplessness that cancer leaves in its wake.

Both my mother and uncle were victims of cancer at a relatively young age. I sometimes wonder whether it is because of them that I have found myself gradually drawn towards the cancer battle over the last few years; as a manufacturing engineer with no single health-related qualification to my name, at least half my work in this decade has been related to cancer. And the team that provides hc2d also runs one of the biggest web-based cancer improvement programmes on behalf of the UK Department of Health's National Cancer Action Team.

But working on service reconfigurations, waiting times, improving outcomes guidance and peer review programmes doesn't bring me anywhere near the reality that is cancer. I am just one of the operatives in the back room of the basement of the intelligence control centre far away from the front line. It is our friends and family that teach us what cancer is really about.

Earlier this week, a close friend died after a three-year battle with cancer. We had been friends since school days but time and distance - and the cancer - meant that we had not had much opportunity to get together recently. She fought the disease as well as anyone could, enduring gruelling episodes of surgery and chemotherapy treatment as the doctors tried to gain control of the malignancy and eradicate it for good. There was a time when we hoped - and prayed - that the battle had been won but it was not to be. She leaves behind a wonderful husband and two small children - and lots of friends who will miss her.

And I am reminded once again of the reason I am doing this: her name was Krishna Rockley and she was very special.




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Ian McHugh

Thursday 13th December 2007 @ 21:54

I too am shocked to hear the news about Krishna. Ten years ago we worked together in Bolton, where she was the first organiser appointed to set up the Volunteer Bureau, finding ways of involving volunteers in the life of the community in all kinds of ways.

Krishna was a very warm and popular person and a really good listener, and many people from that time will be grateful for her support and advice.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Paul and the children at such a sad time, but it was a great privilege to have known and worked with her.

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