Current Affairs

Thank you, Brandon

I’ve been following the Humans of New York (HONY) page on Facebook for a couple of years now and I’m still astounded everyday by the stories of strength, survival and resilience around the world. Recently, the founder of HONY and photographer, Brandon, has produced a series on paediatric cancer patients in New York, documenting the lives of cancer sufferers from the perspective of parents and patients.

All around the world and through social media we hear stories of cancer sufferers and their plight against the disease. So much so that the term ‘cancer’ is almost considered to be a taboo; whenever we hear the word we associate it with a death sentence. But what strikes me about these individual stories is the strength of the children who suffer with the disease on a daily basis, and their attitude towards it being nothing but positive. With their childhood almost robbed, they persevere with the determination to fight. Most of them don’t realise they’re sick, they consider themselves to be just the same as other children and that is what’s remarkable about these stories. It makes everything we complain about on a daily basis seem so mundane and minuscule in comparison to the sickness these young children fight everyday.

They’re an inspiration to us all. They show us that life isn’t too short at all, it’s too unpredictable to have a negative attitude towards. We ought to celebrate the good health we have and make the most of what life has to offer us. But we also ought to give the parents credit – those who remain as strong as they possibly can be for their children, because that in itself can only be debilitating, both emotionally and physically.

So thank you, Brandon, for making us realise how precious life is when you’re healthy. It’s something we take for granted all too easily. In the day-to-day rush of working or studying, we forget to appreciate what really matters. Our health, our families and each other. Thank you for giving these remarkable fighters a voice. They are the epitome of bravery. And they renew our faith in the health professionals who save lives everyday with their tireless efforts, as well as with God in His power to heal.

I urge as many of you as possible to donate money towards the MSK cancer centre and other charities; more money for these centres means more research facilities and a higher likelihood of finding cures for the devastating diseases.

And lastly, Brandon, we cannot commend you enough for all you do worldwide, from the refugee crisis in Syria to humanitarian crisis victims to cancer patients.

Brandon’s HONY blog:

Donation page for the MSK Cancer Centre:

A x

Featured image: Stanton’s book cover ‘Humans of New York’ on amazon

Current Affairs, Original Writing


Yesterday marked World Cancer Day; this year I’m raising awareness and donating money to Cancer Research UK for pancreatic cancer in particular.

During December 2014 I suffered from an attack of acute pancreatitis (AP) and was hospitalised for a week. It took a while to recover from it, too, and whilst I was recovering I learnt more about the pancreas and it’s importance. I learnt that many sufferers of recurrent AP soon develop chronic pancreatitis (CP) which has devastating consequences on both the pancreas and the patient as you can see from the diagram below. Sufferers of CP are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer despite both illnesses being as destructive and lethal to the human body as each other.

Last year, I joined an online forum of pancreatitis sufferers to see how others coped with pancreatitis and it made me realise how underrated issues with the pancreas are; not only are sufferers at a distinct disadvantage with lack of funding involving treatment and specialist consultations but the symptoms of CP and eventually pancreatic cancer are often disguised as other health issues until it’s too late to treat. On this forum, patients were posting their symptoms which predominately consisted of pain and asked for support and advice. Tragically, in the short space of two months that I was a part of this group, two active members died as a result of chronic pancreatitis with many others sharing their stories of finding out they now suffered from pancreatic cancer.

Cancer of the pancreas is the 10th most common cancer worldwide, with approximately 8.8k sufferers a year.¹ Its cause it still yet to be determined but it’s believed that pancreatitis (and on-going inflammation of the pancreas) along with hereditary factors, diet, alcohol consumption and being overweight are all contributing factors.²

Symptoms also vary; 70% of patients experienced pain in the stomach and back prior to their diagnosis, with others being jaundiced or noticing sudden weight loss. Not everyone experiences symptoms, however, which contributes to a late diagnosis and devastating statistics. For example, a distressing 20% of patients survive a year after their initial diagnosis.³ Only 20%. Of course, early diagnosis gives a patient a stronger chance of survival but these diagnoses are only possible with sufficient funding, allowing furthermore research into this illness. With enough money, clinical trials can take place to test treatments, vaccines and chemotherapy amongst other forms of treatment thereby contributing to a stronger chance of survival.

Fundamentally, donating even £3 will allow researchers to find the causes of pancreatic cancer, which could eliminate thousands of potential patients. With better knowledge of the disease, the options of treatment are broader, all contributing to a higher survival rate. Please donate to Cancer Research UK, Macmillan or any other organisation helping support both patients and research facilities.

Everyday is #ADaytoUnite