The latest craze to be sweeping Facebook right now (in case you’ve been living under a rock and somehow managed to miss all the photos popping up on your newsfeed) is the No Make-Up Selfie For Cancer Awareness (known as NMUSFCA) The idea behind this being that cancer doesn’t care what you look like / underneath it we are all the same and absolutely anyone can be affected by it.
The first person I was aware of to have cancer was my uncle Colin. I was 8 and my brother was a baby the first time I met him – he attended my brother’s Christening as my auntie’s guest. He became a permanent part of our lives, but at family functions I was fascinated that he would let me dance standing on his feet for much longer than my dad or granddad would. He told me it was because he couldn’t feel his feet. My dad explained that Colin had spinal cancer and that in an effort to try and eradicate it from him he’d had multiple operations on his spine and as a result was no longer able to feel his feet. At that point he’d been given six months to live. Colin lost his battle with cancer in 1999 – I was 18.
Since then, I found out my dad’s mum also had cancer before I was born – various relatives have battled cancer over the years and as I’ve got older I’ve seen friends do it, too. It never gets any easier to find out someone has cancer, regardless of how severe it is or what stage it’s at. You somehow know, before the words are spoken, what they are going to say and every time the words are spoken it hits you like a tonne of bricks.
My dad does voluntary car driving for the Royal Marsden, which is a world-leading cancer centre. He spends five days a week, sometimes getting up to collect a patient for an appointment at 7am, sometimes not getting home til 9pm. One time it took him four hours to take a patient home from her appointment due to snow fall. It then took him a further four hours to get home again. Sometimes he works more than five days a week – sometimes he’ll do additional patient journies after he’s finished his daily work sheet if they have a low number of voluntary drivers able to deal with the work. He does it willingly – the key to his job description here is ‘voluntary’ car driver. The only patients he takes to and from appointments are cancer patients, and they come in all ages and races, all shapes and sizes, with varying degrees of cancer that they are receiving treatment to beat. Sometimes a patient becomes a regular, with frequent appointments and a friendly relationship building – sometimes the patient suddenly ceases to attend hospital appointments, and upon asking at the hospital when taking in another patient he finds out that cancer has claimed the life of someone else.
When my nan was diagnosed with a brain tumour I was 24. It was a year after we’d mourned the passing of my granddad, and we were nursing her in her own home within a few weeks of diagnosis. Toward the end, we had the assistance of some fantastic MacMillan nurses who were arranged to help us care for nan at home. It was a difficult time but we knew it was what she would prefer. She rapidly became worse and died on 10th October 2005.
So it is for both my nans, for uncle Colin, for all my relatives, all my friends and every person who is in remission from cancer, who is currently battling cancer and who lost their fight. I show you my #nomakeupselfie to raise awareness for cancer research and to encourage everyone to do the same, and make a donation, and really try to make a difference and together we will kick cancer’s butt.
I have checked. I have donated.
Text BEAT to 70007 to donate £3 to Cancer Research UK