Af­ter writ­ing about can­cer, it’s time to do some­thing about it

South Wales Echo - - TYLER MEARS -

CAN­CER. The six-let­ter word every­one dreads.

The one word that can change your life in a sin­gle moment, take your breath away in an in­stant and com­pletely stop you in your tracks.

Can­cer is some­thing I write a lot about in work.

I’ve spo­ken to grans, grandads, moth­ers, fa­thers and even lit­tle chil­dren who have all been di­ag­nosed or af­fected by the dis­ease in some way.

Just a cou­ple of weeks ago I spoke to the mother of a lit­tle girl who – at just a year old – was di­ag­nosed with se­vere aplas­tic anaemia, a rare form of leukaemia.

Her dis­traught parents spent months searching for a po­ten­tial donor, and just over a year or two later, the lit­tle girl ran straight into the arms of a Ger­man stranger – whose do­nated or­gan saved her life.

Be­fore that, I spoke to a young can­cer pa­tient who mar­ried his long-term girl­friend a year early af­ter be­ing told his leukaemia would re­turn.

In sick­ness and in health they stuck by each other.

And then there’s the fa­ther of two I spoke to in Septem­ber.

Af­ter ini­tially be­ing di­ag­nosed with ver­tigo, he found out he had a po­ten­tially life-threat­en­ing brain tu­mour and de­cided to share his ex­pe­ri­ence on Face­book to help oth­ers too.

Day in, day out, I speak to all of these won­der­ful and in­spi­ra­tional peo­ple and their friends and fam­i­lies who, de­spite go­ing through some of the tough­est times life can throw at them, still man­age to find the strength to help and in­spire oth­ers.

Many of them of­ten go on to raise thou­sands of pounds for dif­fer­ent can­cer char­i­ties.

I write about them time and time again but the hope, strength and de­ter­mi­na­tion these peo­ple show never ceases to amaze me.

Through­out my ca­reer, I’ve also learnt a lot of other things about can­cer.

Like the fact that peo­ple liv­ing with the dis­ease in Wales may well in­crease by about 80% be­tween 2010 and 2030.

Or that about 130,000 peo­ple are liv­ing with can­cer in Wales at the moment.

And that one child in ev­ery 500 will de­velop some form of can­cer by the age of 14. It’s just fright­en­ing.

It made me think – what can I do to help?

Un­til re­cently, can­cer had never re­ally been some­thing that had a direct im­pact on my life.

But over the past year or so, a num­ber of my own fam­ily mem­bers have been di­ag­nosed with dif­fer­ent types of the dis­ease.

I started to re­alise the true im­pact of can­cer: the chemo, the count­less op­er­a­tions, the worry, the stress and the anx­ious waiting.

So, I de­cided it was about time I did some­thing about it.

Rather than just sit­ting back and writ­ing about all these in­spi­ra­tional peo­ple, I was ac­tu­ally go­ing to take part in some fundrais­ing my­self.

With that be­ing said, I de­cided to raise money for Velin­dre Can­cer Cen­tre, by sign­ing up to do a huge trek to Machu Pic­chu in Septem­ber.

I’ve never re­ally done any fundrais­ing like this be­fore – or, at least, not to this scale any­way.

There will be around six to 10 hours of trekking ev­ery day for 10 days, so I know it’s go­ing to be phys­i­cally and men­tally chal­leng­ing.

But un­like some peo­ple, I’m lucky enough to have my health and I re­ally just want to give some­thing back. Not only for my fam­ily, but for all the amaz­ing mums, dads, grans, grandads and kids I’ve writ­ten about and con­tinue to write about in work. Velin­dre Can­cer Cen­tre has been pro­vid­ing care, sup­port and treat­ment to can­cer pa­tients and their fam­i­lies since 1956. Thanks to char­i­ties like Velin­dre, can­cer sur­vival rates have dou­bled in the past 40 years, mean­ing that more peo­ple in Wales are sur­viv­ing can­cer be­cause of bet­ter treat­ments and ear­lier de­tec­tion.

Can­cer does not just af­fect one per­son, but every­one as a whole. We must unite and fight it to­gether.

If you would like to help me raise money for Velin­dre, please visit my JustGiv­ing page and do­nate what you can at www.justgiv­ing. com/fundrais­ing/Tyler-Ash­leighMears

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