The reason I volunteer for Cancer Research is because, like more and more families in this day and age, cancer has affected a great deal of my family. My brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the very young age of thirteen nineteen years ago. Fortunately, he survived and is with us today but we nearly did lose him. You see, my brother had noticed the signs for a month before he told my parents because he was embarrassed. My father was always away on business trips and so telling my mother was a lot more difficult.
The surgeon who removed his testicle told my mother and father that, in this country, "we tell our daughters everything and our sons are left completely in the dark." My mother had to visit the school my brother attended to explain why he was absent and she asked the head of the school if they could notify both the parents of and the boys themselves of the importance of checking themselves for signs of cancer. Sadly, my mother was told that the school can only issue notices that are authorized by the educational government.
But the main reason my brother didn’t tell anybody about his worries is because, back then, there wasn’t accessible information like there is today.
Why I’m telling you this story is because so many people stay quiet when they notice the signs of cancer. Whether it’s a lump or a change in bowel movements or any abnormal change in the body, you should never ignore it. And yet, people do. Because they’re scared, because they’re embarrassed – there are so many reasons.
My grandparents are a less fortunate example of this. My father's mother had bowel cancer and had been experiencing the symptoms for a year but didn’t tell anybody. It was only when my aunt returned home after six months away and noticed that my grandmother was looking under the weather that we all found out she had bowel cancer. Unfortunately, it was too late when we got her to the doctor as the cancer was already spreading to her brain. What makes this even more painful to look back upon is that my grandfather was in a similar situation to his wife – having believed that he just had a sore throat for a number of months when it was, in actual fact, throat cancer. Like my grandmother, it was too late. Both passed away within ten days of each other.
Because of this, the hospital decided to check the rest of my father's immediate family only to find that my uncle also had bowel cancer. It had been caught early before the signs were apparent and, after a very rough and lengthy year, he has now recovered and living life again like my brother does.
This is why myself and my mother volunteer at Cancer Research – not only to help with donations that fund research to discover a cure but to help customers who are either suffering from cancer or fear that they have cancer. We both believe that it is our duty to make sure that all our customers are aware of our information pamphlets and if someone does come to either of us with concerns and queries about a particular type of cancer, we make sure that we supply them with all the information they need and give them somewhat of a support – even if it is only for the duration of the conversation. Because, in essence, we all need to know that we’re not alone in this battle.
|World Cancer Day Unity Band - £2|
For example, in August last year, my mother noticed an elderly lady looking at the leaflets and she’d seen her previously doing so and so she decided to go over and quietly ask her if she needed help. She responded with that she had found a lump in her breast all the way back in January last year. My mother gave her a leaflet and pleaded with her to visit her doctor and have a check-up. Just recently, she revisited the shop we volunteer at to reveal that she does have breast cancer and that she is receiving treatment. But her primary reason of returning was to thank my mother for urging her to see her doctor because if not, it could have been too late.
Even if myself and my mother are only volunteers, we still believe that we're doing our little bit in the fight against cancer. Whether either of us are well, ill or indisposed, we will always try to come into the shop to help raise money and push us further towards finding a cure for this horrible disease.
World Cancer Day is being held on the Thursday 4th February this year. You can visit your local Cancer Research branch and pick up a Unity Band for £2. Any donation of any kind is greatly appreciated. Perhaps, even enroll as a volunteer yourself! Let's unite together and help beat cancer sooner!