Cancer Research: What is it to you?
Mention ‘cancer’ and many people can tell you how it has touched their lives in some way or other. Maybe someone from their family, business or social circles has experienced it. Maybe they’ve seen or heard of someone who had it. Maybe they lived with someone with cancer.
What’s obvious is that cancer is no stranger to most people. It’s dreadful, it’s fearful, it’s there.
But mention ‘cancer research’ and all you get is a few polite nods or empty stares.
What comes to mind are images of white-coated scientists in their labs, peering intently into microscopes and testing countless test-tubes or petri dishes filled with anything from live culture to bacterium to blood samples. It’s hard to find a connection between scientists and cancer patients.
Yet, the link is closer than you think.
If not for research, we would not know that 50% of cancers are preventable. If not for research, cervical cancer and liver cancer would not be diseases that are preventable through vaccination. If not for research, testicular cancer would not now be a curable disease. Breast cancer and leukemia were once considered death sentences, until scientists discovered how they happened, what the risk factors were and what treatment can be done to arrest the growth of cancerous cells. Now, more than 8 out of 10 breast and leukaemia cancer patients will survive at least 5 years.
It didn’t happen overnight, of course. Research is tedious work. For the last century, scientists have been toiling away, dissecting cell after cell, gene after gene, trying to understand cancer. What resulted are new methods for cancer prevention and cancer screening that give us a chance to reduce our risk from developing cancer, and new cancer treatments that give cancer patients a second chance in life.
This cancer patient could be someone you know or someone you love. Or it could be you.
This is how cancer research affects us all. Like doctors, firefighters and policemen, cancer research scientists are lifesavers. The only difference is that they work behind the scenes, in often obscure labs away from public eye.
The next time you hear ‘cancer research’, think of all the cancer patients you ever knew. They could be alive today if we had more knowledge and treatments for cancer.
The more support we get for cancer research, the closer we are to beating cancer. Have you done your part?