‘That so many people with untreatable cancer are missing out on clinical trials is a tragedy, and something must be done about it.’
It was on Boxing Day that I drove my dad to A&E. He had started to feel ill a few weeks after his 70th birthday, but trip after trip to the doctors didn’t result in any progress, and even fewer answers for my dad about what was causing the problems with his health.
I couldn’t take it anymore - to see him struggle over Christmas had been too much. When we arrived, the hospital tried to have him sent home. I refused to leave until they sent him to be evaluated.
Eventually dad was admitted and taken for an MRI scan. After a few days, we were given the news: terminal cancer in his kidneys. He was told he had about three months to live. With that, we were sent home, shocked and struggling to come to terms with what we had just heard.
As soon as I could begin to think straight, I started to make calls to charities focused on kidney cancer. I was looking for information, advice, and any help that we could get for my dad. If I remember it right, it was on my third or fourth call when the person on the other end of the phone offered to get my dad seen by a specialist.
They knew a professor based at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, who could spare some time to meet me dad and discuss what could be done. It turns out there was a clinical trial underway, and we managed to get dad onto it as a participant.
Dad passed away in November 2018. If I had never made those calls, we wouldn’t have had an extra two years with him. It’s impossible to put into words how grateful we were, and still are, for this precious time we had.
What upsets me most is the fact that, had we not taken matters in our own hands and looked for help elsewhere, we would never have found out about the clinical trial. It was never mentioned by the hospital – I don’t believe they even knew it was taking place.
Being left without any options after a diagnosis feels truly hopeless. That so many people with untreatable cancer are missing out on clinical trials is a tragedy, and something must be done about it.
ACT for Cancer is leading the way in building a community of people who have experienced what I have. They’re promoting awareness about clinical trials, and campaigning to make real change to the way we treat cancer. By helping the charity, you’re helping people like my dad.