Friday 18 June 2010

Campaign's House of Lords awards reception

Oakwood School receiving Campaign's 'School of the Year' award from Baroness Fookes

Apologies that it has all gone a bit quiet in this blog. The last few weeks have been very inwardly focused on business planning, budgeting, risk assessments and other vital but not very bloggable stuff.

Last night was our annual reception at the House of Lords very graciously hosted by our very first patron, Baroness Fookes. For once the sun shone and our guests were able to go out onto the terrace and enjoy the wonderful view over the River Thames. The event runs like clockwork: as a charity that made its name with events, we have a well-honed plan and crisp teamwork from all staff. All I have to do is make the speech and walk around and talk to people.

It enables us to bring the people who raise the money together with the scientists whose research they are funding. It is important for the scientists to hear their stories so that they are not too distant from the process, and judging from the many excited comments I had from people who had spoken to the scientist whose research they are supporting – our scientists did us proud.

There are awards for the top research team of the year and a number of fundraising and volunteer awards. It is always very difficult to decide these as everyone there has a story to tell and many have gone to great lengths to raise money. Lots of tears and hugs as well. See the list of award winners here.

There was some anxiety from the scientific community about the Charity Research Support Fund which I have written about in the past. Fundraisers were also concerned that we might be forced to support less research if this support is not sustained.

I was also able to share with everyone our delight in achieving The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work For 2010 (number 91) and achieving a 2 Star Status in Best Companies Accreditation 2010. More importantly we were third on the list where staff were asked if they felt they made a difference.

As I said to everyone there, “I am in no doubt that the main reason we all feel that we make a difference is because of all of you. You are our inspiration and our motivation whether it is because we know that we are supporting the best scientists to do the best research or because of all the people who help us raise the money. You can be confident that we are spending the money you have worked so hard to raise most effectively to improve diagnosis, treatment and survival.”

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Another day, another ground-breaking discovery!

If you read the papers or watched the news over the weekend you would think that everyone at Breast Cancer Campaign is busy working on how we close down the charity because no more research is needed. We are moments away from a vaccine to prevent breast cancer.

OK – that is an exaggeration – but not much. “Jab ‘to prevent breast cancer’ may be trialled on women in a year: A revolutionary jab that could prevent and treat breast cancer has been developed”.

As with all these things the reality is quite a bit further from what was printed. I won’t attempt to deal with the science of this, and I am sure that our scientists will have a lot to say about it, but while the research itself is interesting we are not facing a vaccine for breast cancer any time soon. For the non-scientific I think that the article by Dr Mark Porter in today’s Times put it very well.

The breast cancer vaccine is great news — for mice genetically prone to the disease.

UK researchers are generally more restrained in their claims but US researchers are less so, possibly for the reasons Porter outlines.

It isn’t that simple – one of the biggest advances in treatment in the past few years – Herceptin – only works for about 25 per cent of breast cancers. As Dennis Slamon, the scientist whose work over 20 years ago led to the development of Herceptin says, “the only thing that breast cancers have in common is the organ of the body in which they occur”. It isn’t one disease, there won’t be one cure or one way of preventing it, and one drug or new breakthrough won’t fit all.