I wish I had breast cancer – advert by Pancreatic Cancer Action in the UK

Evidently an ad campaign has been running on UK commercial TV which has a pancreatic cancer patient saying she wished she had breast cancer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDU1XEAWkxE&feature=youtu.be

I do understand the message, and I do understand the lack of funding for pancreatic cancer research but there are also frustrations for those of us with Metastatic Breast Cancer who have to see that only about 3% of breast cancer research funding is directly targeted at MBC and 97% to early stage breast cancer.

I do understand the low survival rates for pancreatic cancer, my brother died from it. But the real point here is that billions are directed at cancer research, yet why is so little directed at finding cures and treatments for Advanced and Metastatic cancers? Why does so much of the funding seem to be sent on repeating the same research over and over again, and/or finding new breakthroughs in the metastatic process which then seem to disappear without any further sightings.

The question should be ‘who controls the research funding and who decides what it should be spent on’. It would seem to me that a treatment going into a trial is partially an excuse to throw money around on headed notepaper, give away pens and all the other freebies associated with it. Oh, but it is only a small amount, they may say, but add it all up … More and more charities want the public to give money to their cause but what is the return on that money? Knowing that you have paid the Chief Executive’s six figure salary? You’ve paid for all those things that come through the post with, or without, the free pen etc. to bribe you into thinking that you should do something in return for the pen. How much is being spent on trying to get donations, and how effect are these campaigns in reality?

What we need is an independent organisation who will oversee research so the same things are not endlessly repeated. An organisation which will make sure that research funding is spent where it is needed most and focus on the things with the greatest need and not just the highest profile. The trouble is that it is like anything else cute and sexy sells. Pandas get lots of attention and column inches but there are other species that are even more threatened, but are not as cute and sexy. Boobs sell, pancreases don’t.

Having had a look at the Pancreatic Cancer Action website I was really pleased to see that there is some good education for the medical profession. One thing they could do more of is listening to patients about their symptoms. The doctor in the video points out that it used to be thought that women with Ovarian cancer had no symptoms, which they see as being the case with pancreatic cancer at the moment. However further research has shown that there are symptoms for Ovarian Cancer and hopefully in the future there will be recognised early symptoms for pancreatic cancer. How often are patients asked what their symptoms were? For instance I had a weird smelling arm pit on the side where my breast cancer originated. I’ve never heard of this as being a symptom as a lump would be, but it was something I noticed for quite a while before diagnosis … but there again no one has ever asked me what symptoms I noticed that could be related to the cancer. Why not? We don’t all fit in the same little boxes. Are there symptoms for pancreatic cancer which are being ignored because no one ever bothered to as the patients what they had noticed.

What we all want is genuine progress to be made against cancer. This does not mean company profits, career path glory or what ‘sells’. It means that the patient is taken seriously, is listened to, and research is targeted. At the moment these are just wishes and dreams and not facts and figures.



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