Last week, we launched our Shoulder to Shoulder Against Cancer Campaign to push for the Government to train and employ more staff to diagnose and treat cancers earlier. Over 80 voluntary Cancer Campaigns Ambassadors went to Parliament to meet their MPs and ask them to sign a joint letter to the Prime Minister.
Cancer survivor and Campaigns Ambassador Elizabeth Bailey spoke at the event. Here, she explains why she’s supporting the campaign, and how you can get involved.
Why I’m standing shoulder to shoulder with the NHS against cancer
This time 8 years ago, I was nearing the end of gruelling surgery and chemotherapy, and approaching radiotherapy.
Some months earlier, I had sat in the car park of the Luton and Dunstable hospital and cried aching tears. Diagnosed with a large breast cancer that had spread to nearby lymph nodes, I thought I had no through road ahead, and I would be leaving my two beautiful daughters before they grew up.
But I’m still here and I’m quite noisy thanks to our NHS staff.
For my cancer care, from diagnosis to treatment, I have many NHS staff to thank. They are the reason I can be a mother today for my children. Our NHS is there when we’re at our most fearful and vulnerable, and now it’s time to stand with them.
Screening, testing and treating cancer effectively takes time and people. Having benefited from radiotherapy myself, I know that 4 in 10 cancer patients will receive radiotherapy for their treatment. Yet there is a shortage of therapeutic radiotherapists to do this essential job.
I’ve been told there’s a medium to high risk of the cancer coming back because of its stage of advancement. I do go back to hospital quite often for various checks, and I do sadly experience delays in my appointments because of the shortages.
This is a political matter, but it’s not a party-political one. It’s not about polarisation of opinion, or taking sides. It’s about us all standing shoulder to shoulder, and giving this problem the resources it needs.
So, I am asking you, play your part in making this happen, and stand shoulder to shoulder with me against cancer.
Time to act
Right now, the NHS is stretched. Across the UK, 1 in 10 positions for diagnostic staff are vacant. And with an ageing and growing population, the demand for tests and treatment is increasing.
There have been positive steps, including yesterday’s Government announcement to remove immigration restrictions for non-EU doctors. But the NHS needs long-term solutions, including more funding to train and recruit staff to diagnose and treat cancer. The UK Government has promised a spending review to look at what the NHS needs now and in the future. This review must address the NHS workforce crisis.
110 MPs and Peers have backed our campaign so far, but we need more. Your MP’s support will help make early diagnosis of cancer and the NHS workforce a priority in long-term funding plans.
Join Elizabeth and other cancer campaigners today.
Kirsten Rhodes is a campaigning officer at Cancer Research UK