Today is International Clinical Trials Day, a day to recognise and celebrate the progress being made in cancer treatment and care. A clinical trial is a research study that investigates new and improved ways to treat cancer or improve your quality of life whilst living with cancer. Friends of the Cancer Centre has invested almost £1million to support vital cancer research over the next three years, through the charity’s partnership with the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research. This funding helps provide key infrastructure for the NI Cancer Trials Network and today, we are proud that this support is funding 9 vital staff posts, including research nurses, research radiographers, a data manager and administration and governance posts.
Most importantly, this support is making a difference to people here in Northern Ireland. Jim Kane from Randalstown, who is one of the faces of our #HereForYou campaign, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006. Jim’s cancer was advanced, but thanks to a clinical trial supported by Friends of the Cancer Centre and the support of the charity over the last 16 years, Jim is still here. This is his story:
“I found out I had cancer by chance. A friend of mine was diagnosed with prostate cancer and he told me he found out after his doctor carried out a PSA test, which is a simple blood test that can flag problems with the prostate. By chance, I was having a routine check-up with my GP that week and while I wasn’t experiencing any of the common symptoms of prostate cancer, for peace of mind he did the PSA check.”
Two days later Jim’s GP asked to see him right away as his PSA test was very high and he wanted to send Jim for a biopsy.
“The results showed I had a highly aggressive prostate cancer. I was devastated. All of a sudden I felt like my life was gone. I was fighting cancer.”
No quick fix
Jim started treatment at the Cancer Centre in Belfast, but due to how advanced the cancer was, he was invited to take part in a clinical trial called STAMPEDE.
“I had nothing to lose, so I agreed to take part as I knew it could save my life. I was taken under the wing of Professor Joe O’Sullivan who explained what the trial involved and what was ahead of me. The care and support I received from Professor O’Sullivan, the clinical trial nurses and everyone involved in my treatment was incredible. They were all working hard for me and I developed a mind-set that not only did I want to get better for me and my family, but I wanted to get better for them too.”
Friends of the Cancer Centre is a lifeline
It was during these difficult times that Jim became aware of Friends of the Cancer Centre and the work the charity does to support people like him.
“I’m particularly grateful for the work the charity does in local research, including its ongoing support of clinical trials, as it is giving many people like me a future. Even before my treatment had finished, I was raising money for the charity and I proudly continue to do so today. I look after collection cans in my local area and recently became an ambassador, representing the charity by attending events and cheque presentations across the country. I am proud to be involved with Friends of the Cancer Centre and would urge anyone to support this fantastic charity, whether you have been affected by cancer directly or indirectly, the charity needs your help to enable them to continue to support local people affected by cancer.”
I’m still here
“Today, 16 years after I was diagnosed, I’m still here. In that time I have been given the opportunity to enjoy my life and watch my grandchildren grow up. I am testament to the skills and dedication of the fantastic team of people at the Cancer Centre who worked tirelessly to save my life. Friends of the Cancer Centre is a vital part of this great team and I’m forever grateful to the charity and all the people who support it as without them, my experience would have been very different. I shouldn’t be here, but I am.”
Our support of clinical trials is only made possible thanks to your support. If you would like to show your support and make a donation, click the button below.
This year, Jim is proudly supporting our Here For You campaign, which is highlighting the ways in which the charity’s support is making a difference to people and families across Northern Ireland. Keep an eye out for Jim in our outdoor adverts over the coming months.