Tuesday 30 July 2019

Give It Some Welly

I’ve been very quiet of late. I’ve either been fastened to my desk in a writing/ editing/ teaching frenzy or struck down by a parade of menieres attacks which stop me so firmly in my tracks, I’m left having to unstick my feet, heave myself back into my chair and type like a second world war typing school graduate (I’m reading the fabulous,  Dear Mrs Bird, at the moment, which is where that image came from) to try to crawl back to where I’d been before the debilitating vertigo struck. Before I’d been practically carried out of the café at Waitrose by the person with whom I’d been having the meeting before it struck, that is, with the help of three members of staff, as well as the store manager and health and safety officer greeting me at the exit because these things have to be documented. Still, the bijoux crew of touchingly compassionate helpers waved me off me with a rather beautiful and very expensive bouquet of flowers which went a long way to erasing the humiliation of a shop full of customers thinking I’d had ten-too-many by 3pm. I’m afraid this has been the general picture of my life since the beginning of the year and my blog and social media have taken a hit.

However, I had the most perfect of motivating, energising blogging tonics last week when I was asked if I’d attend the Yorkshire Cancer Research’s Give It Some Welly event in Leeds town centre. This was to mark the 10-day countdown to Yorkshire Day on 1 August, a highly appropriate occasion to launch Give It Some WellyYorkshire Cancer Research’s (YCR) first ever region wide fundraising campaign.

I was more than happy to help in my small way, and very excited to throw miniature wellies at a target with Adil Rashid, the Yorkshire and England World Cup cricketing hero because yes, it’s not widely known, but I am a massive cricket fan. Of course I am. My Dad used to take me to Trent Bridge in the Derek Randall days when he would come out early on to the pitch and show off his fielding brilliance and his equally legendary sense of humour. What’s not to love!

I also got to meet another legend from my childhood: Harry Gration, a thoroughly down to earth, non-super-starry superstar who was as excited as I was to meet Adil Rashid and as interested as I was in Yorkshire Cancer Research’s campaign.

But then it got a bit more serious. I was shocked, really shocked to hear that Yorkshire has one of the highest incidence and mortality rates in the country. It slapped me around the face a bit, I’ll be honest. It made me even more grateful to be one of the lucky ones who survived an, ‘it’s very fast growing’ cancer. It was the type of breast cancer that had it been thirty years ago, I’d have been relying far too heavily on a welly-load of luck to have survived. Pre the wonder drug of Herceptin (Trastuzumab) which has been available on the NHS only since 2006, all the cards would have been in cancer’s hands.

Herceptin and the myriad of new drugs and pioneering treatments which have raised the odds of cancer survival significantly over the past few decades, are the result of research. Without research, they wouldn’t exist. And without funding, there is no research. If we want survival rates to keep on improving, research will need funding. And that is one of the aims of the Give It Some Welly campaign.

Awareness of the importance of taking up screening opportunities is another tool in the armoury to bring down cancer deaths. Take-up is disappointingly low in many parts of the region and yet it could alert us to a cancer forming way before a lump might have forced us to the doctor’s. Whilst early detection won’t stop us getting cancer, it might stop us dying from it. Generally, the earlier cancer is caught, the higher the chance of survival. As somebody who’s gone through cancer treatment and the mental turmoil of dicing with death, trust me, if I receive a letter to attend or make an appointment for screening, it’s done before it’s even made it to my to-do list.

This isn’t a competition, but the thing is, if higher survival rates are achievable elsewhere in the country, then of course they’re achievable here. YCR needs to raise 10 million pounds every year for the next ten to reach its £100 million target. Fundraising starts on Thursday 1 August and Yorkshire peeps, it needs us!

The wonderful thing about this campaign is that it’s so easy and cheap, if not, free, to take part. Anything goes, however loosely themed around a welly you want to make your fundraising event: decorate your wellies, arrange flowers in them, wear them to work or don’t wear them to work (if you’re a farmer) wang them, convert them, build a tower out of them, it really doesn’t matter.

I have to say, my heart is in wanging them but I think I’m going to struggle to sort my wellies out before 1 August. However, if you see me and hopefully a small but perfectly formed crowd in a field in our North Yorkshire village some time in August, hopelessly (in my case – discus and shot never were my forte) tossing wellies in a vague direction and cheering and laughing hysterically, it might just be part of the campaign. Come and join us! And/or why not set up your own fundraiser?? You can find all the information you need, here. 

Happy welly wanging!

And don’t forget, please donate when you can, and attend those screening appointments. You know it makes sense 😊