This isn’t going to be one of my long, rambling posts, partly because I have to entertain a two-year-old tearaway tomorrow, but mostly because I don’t profess to know anywhere near enough to write a detailed piece on this subject. However, given that I’m watching Channel 4’s ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ programme (along with a fair amount of UK-based Twitter users, from the looks of London’s trends), I thought I may as well be topical.
I am one of the extremely lucky few whose family hasn’t been affected by cancer. If the 1 in 3 statistic is accurate, then I am either fortunate to have been born into a gene pool which is less susceptible to the disease (I appreciate that evidence surrounding such a disposition is tenuous), or several of my relatives are unaware that they are living with a life-threatening illness.
Due to the fact that I haven’t known anyone personally with a cancer diagnosis, I am completely oblivious to most of the issues and hardships faced by those who have. I don’t profess to have encountered anything as heartbreaking as a loved one being told they have a terminal form of the disease, but I am still harrowed by the VTs in which people affected by cancer are baring their souls to the television-watching public, in the hope of raising money for medical advances. I can’t imagine how they must feel – not only those with prognoses themselves, but their spouses, parents, children – or how they could possibly find the strength to come to terms with something so despairing and utterly terrifying.
I don’t want to make sweeping generalisations, but it’s hard to imagine a modern society which hasn’t heard of cancer. The abundance of research, numerous charities and multitude of first-hand experiences make it difficult to comprehend how little was known about the illness, right up until the last century which saw massive advances in understanding, identification and treatment. Now, we are more informed than ever, and on the brink of crucial therapy breakthroughs; now, a cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean that the disease will inevitably kill you.
Programmes, such as ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ (and those in the same vein – ‘Children in Need’ and ‘Comic Relief’, I’m looking at you), give us all a chance to donate through secure means, whilst ensuring that every single penny goes towards their cause. For those of us who are lucky enough not to see the daily devastation caused by cancer, shows such as these force us to realise the pain that others are enduring as a result of this condition. It may be tempting to switch over when those heart-wrenching accounts are played, but the nation’s increased understanding – not just of cancer’s physical impact, but also of the emotional toil it causes – is beneficial to everyone. I don’t have a statistic to back it up, but I would be willing to bet that a larger proportion of donations are given during or immediately following those VTs, than those pledged during sketch show specials.
Tonight, Channel 4 has been forward-thinking in its broadcast of a new programme which uses the hyperactive presenter(s)/personal appeals/celeb performances format, not to mention extremely brave to do so in the unstable economy. Projects such as these require an enormous amount of organisation, negotiation and dedication – all of which only pays off if people actually donate to the cause in question.
Those who watch these programmes for entertainment purposes (by which I mean the one-offs of ‘8 Out of 10 Cats’ and the like) but fail to pledge money are, in my opinion, despicable. Anyone who is able to afford the annual licence fee has the means to make a donation; anyone who doesn’t should simply not be permitted to watch such shows. At the risk of sounding like Davina McCall, no sum is too small and (sue me, Tesco) every little helps.
So pick up your phones – 0300 123 4444 – or head to http://su2c.channel4.com/ to make a pledge through debit/credit card or PayPal. They can’t make it any easier to donate but, by giving to this incredible cause, we can make it easier for sufferers the world over, by showing that we care about clinical trials and we will stand up to cancer.