Like everyone else in New Zealand cancer has made its mark on my life. I am lucky enough to never have had it, but I am convinced that inevitably at some stage in my life I will. The amount of people in my life that have suffered through or lost their fight with cancer is an unacceptable figure. My grandmother, grandfather, mother in law, cousin, uncle, school friends and innumerable other relatives and acquaintances have had their lives and those of their loved ones forever altered by this pernicious disease. My cousin died at the tragic age of eighteen after his battle with cancer. My great uncle, who got me involved with Relay for Life when I was thirteen, died when I was sixteen. I had the priviledge to watch him walk the survivors lap in the two events that I participated in before the struggle he had undergone for so many years took him away. My Nan's partner has suffered through a variety of cancers for the fifteen years he has been in my life entire time he has been in my life, from brain tumors to blood cancers and even now he and my Nan who cares for him are being worn down to a bare minimum existence of dreading doctors visit, always the herald of more bad news. My beloved grandmother is currently suffering from her second bout of cancer, this time inoperable.
But, despite how it might seem, its not all bad news. Change can be effected and advances are always being made. Wouldn't it be incredible if tomorrow, or next year or a decade from now the breaking news wasn't an updated statistic on how many people are dying, or even how many people are surviving, but how many people can be cured!
I hope that in my lifetime we can find a cure for at least some kinds of cancer, or at least a treatment that doesn't so horrifically damage the patients it is supposed to help. So many diseases were once thought to be unconquerable and look how easily we can treat things now that even 80 years ago were life threatening.
On Christmas Day, 2013 I will be shaving off my hair, and I hope my grandmother will be able to remove the first strip knowing that something has been done to help anyone who has suffered like she has.
I have chosen to donate the money that I raise to the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research because this is an independent New Zealand institution that leads the way in cancer research as well as other widespread serious diseases. This institute is key in the process of curing cancer and is completely reliant on donations. This institute is funded by a wide variety of cancer charities in New Zealand so I am skipping the middle man and going direct to the source of the research which ensures that as much of the money as possible is going directly into the cancer research fund.