For two years after my secondary diagnosis I did the Cancer Research UK Race For Life along Bournmouth promenade with friends and/or family. For those of you who don't know this is a 5km ladies only walk or race which are held all over the UK to raise money for Cancer Research UK which is one of the largest cancer research charities in the world. Why, you may ask, did I not take part in the Race For Life today?
Over a period of time I have begun to really wonder where the money raised actually goes. I contacted Cancer Research UK and asked how much of their research budget did they spend on any form of metastatic, secondary cancer. After all this is the cancer which actually kills most of the patients who die of cancer. Their answer was that they spent £4 million. A lot of money, until you consider that they have a research budget of £400 million a year. So about 1% is spend on researching the types of cancers that kill the most people. This is the primary reason I don't take part any longer.
Why do I feel that charities now waste a lot of money on CEOs who are highly paid, and other paid staff who fund raise, raise awareness of the symptoms, organise the shop, and much more. But how much money has to be raised before there is anything to actually contribute to the cause? While I appreciate that these are full time jobs some of these folks seem to be paid an awful lot of money. Going into the voluntary sector is no longer a vocation but a serious career move.
With breast cancer there is already a lot of information to raise awareness that is freely available, so why are there so many charities doing the same thing, as well as the NHS? Lets face it there are a lot of people out there who won't listen, come what may. And whose fault is that? Now there's a question.
A lot of advice is available about how to try and prevent cancer and about life style and diet that can help prevent the disease, but constantly the media and the vested interests undermine this information. One day potato is good for you, the next it isn't. Is salt good or bad for you, bearing in mind that it is a mineral that we all need to survive, and what about fats? Not all fats are created equal, though all are needed but in the right ratio, so which one is good and which is bad; this week. It is all treated as a good source for a story and a few emotive headlines. After all smoking was considered to be healthy at one time, and even when the truth was known the vested interests ignored this information so their profit margins were not affected. Smokers also ignore the information scientific evidence that tobacco caused cancer, but then we all thought this wouldn't happen to us, didn't we? There is no absolute way to avoid cancer because it is a complex disease which has, in my opinion, far more than one cause, of which life style and diet is only a part.
The other problem is the vested interests. Which is more important the health of your customers or the bottom line of the profit column at the end of the year? Sadly it is the latter that matters to the people who make the decisions; after all their bonuses depend on that figure at the bottom of the profit column, well it did at one time; now I am not so sure as they seem to get huge bonuses for failure as well these days. Food should be about nutrition and not about how long it can stay on the shelf, or how cheaply it can be made for the maximum profit, or how many artificial ingredients you can stuff into it to make it look better, taste better, last better. The trouble is that we are lead to believe that processed food is convenient and healthy because of all the nutritional information on the packaging, and surely companies would not make food that was bad for us, would they? In addition there are a lot of people now who cannot cook, other than opening a packet or a can, reading the instructions and following them so the product turns out the same every time. How many of us really think about what we eat? Until 4 years ago I didn't give it much thought, but now look where I am. Don't make the same mistake. I always thought the idea of your body being your temple was a bit silly, but now I know that it is true. My body may not be the slimmest and fittest temple around, but at least I now think about what I eat and now it can effect the ability of my 'temple' to cope with the disease the doctors said should have killed me by now.