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