Most of us have been, or will be, touched by cancer in some way, either personally or by someone we know being diagnosed with the disease.
I certainly have, as two of my grandparents died from Stomach and Oesophageal cancer. Their deaths had a big impact on me as a doctor and, though they died many years ago, I often think of them with affection in my current work. Statistically nearly one in two of us will have cancer at some time in our lives.
Cancer affects younger people too, how often have we heard in the news about experiences of young cancer suffers who selflessly share their story and give so much hope and inspiration to others. As a father of a teenage boy, I have an eye to the future and want to see improvements in cancer care to continue at pace.
Since becoming a GP in Doncaster I’ve seen significant progress in our local fight against cancer and the good news is that more local people than ever are standing up to and beating the disease. Our success has been recognised as far afield as Westminster, where the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer gave recognition to Doncaster for being one of the most improved areas in the country when it comes to patients living with cancer for at least one year after diagnosis.
This is thanks to many people – patients, medical staff and other health workers – who are getting better at spotting the warning signs earlier and doing something about it. The equation is relatively simple; Early diagnosis + fast access to treatment = a better chance of survival.
We recently received a public question at October’s Governing Body meeting from HealthWatch Doncaster regarding our local cancer performance figures, we are far from complacent with the progress made so far and we acknowledge that more work is needed for the future challenges.
Earlier this year, I completed two years as one of two Doncaster GPs who have been funded by the Macmillan charity to develop services for those local people who are living with and beyond cancer. It was a rewarding role and I’m now pleased to say that I’ve been asked to take on a new part time role with the newly created Cancer Alliance Board, as the senior responsible officer for prevention, early identification, screening and diagnosis of cancer across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw. I’ll be working with other clinicians and managers to see how we can transform health services so we can; reduce the chances of getting cancer, spot cancer even earlier and give patients an even better fighting chance of beating it.
It’s an ambitious challenge, but one that I am up for.
The fight goes on.