It’s the messages on the participants’ shirts that really get you. “Thank you all for such good care in looking after our daughter Lisa”; “Thank you for my sister’s treatment”; “In loving memory of my great Nana”; “In memory of my loving hubby, Chasy Baby, I love you”; “In memory of Christy.” And this, “Marching for our baby grandson who has Neuroblastoma.”
Today the Marsden March took place in and around London to raise funds for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Despite the horrible early March weather, thousands turned up to walk the 14-mile and 5-mile courses. Fresh (or maybe not) off the plane from Hong Kong, I did the latter alongside The Moodie Davitt Report’s Brands Editor Helen Pawson (whose Dad Gary, like my mum Mary, was lost to this disease). Each participant was asked to raise at least £150 for the charity’s world-leading cancer research and care programmes. I thank all those who supported me in today’s walk (as I write, I have raised £2,480.89. Click here if you would like to add).
As I’ve said many times in this Blog, cancer will touch us all, directly or indirectly. Latest research suggests that one in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. It’s a terrible and frightening statistic.
But it’s no longer one-way traffic. Thanks to the efforts of The Royal Marsden and other cancer research bodies around the world, the tide is turning in mankind’s favour in the battle to beat the disease. Today, I was living, walking proof of it, having waged my own war with stomach cancer back in 2010 and 2011. Many of today’s walkers were patients currently being treated by the Marsden; others were walking in memory of lives lost or in thanks for lives saved. It was a poignant but inspirational scene.
I hate this disease. So does everyone who marched today. And yet the overwhelming sentiment on display was not hate but love, the prevailing mood not despair but optimism. Increasingly, cancer is being beaten and ultimately will be defeated completely. The key to that victory will be research, for which, in turn, funding is all-important. Step by step, cancer is meeting its match. And today many important steps were taken. I am proud, and indeed fortunate, that some of them were mine.