Ellie Dawes
Posted by
Ellie Dawes

Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and human rights: a post for Blog Action Day

Ellie Dawes
Posted by
Ellie Dawes
16 Oct 2013
You may not think about this often, but as a supporter of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, you are helping to uphold human rights for thousands of people. Here's a look at 5 of the rights listed in the universal declaration of human rights, and how we're making those things a reality for more people.

1. "Everyone has the right to life."

Since our charty started over 50 years ago, more people survive blood cancer every year. We understand blood cancers so much better now, in many cases we know what causes them and we have found out, and keep finding out more and more ways to treat them.

For example, when we started childhood leukaemia was a death sentence. Today, 90% of children diagnosed with the most common forms of childhood leukaemia survive.

That's 9/10 children afforded the right to life that they deserve, thanks to our amazing fundraisers and researchers.

We still have a long way to go, but our successes and impact on survival rates so far mean we can be confident that we will stop people dying of blood cancer, and we won't stop until we do.

2. "The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection."

The declaration of human rights acnowledges how important it is to keep families together. Many of the research projects we fund are aimed at tailoring treatment for patients.

This means doctors are able to give patients the amount and types of chemotherapy they are likely to need, rather than simply treating everyone with the largest safe dose possible. As well as making the treatment more effective, this means that for most patients the side-effects of chemotherapy are reduced.

To see what this can mean for families, read Vanessa Lowe's story. Vanessa was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukaemia, just days after she found out she was pregnant with twins.

Thanks to the pioneering MRD test, developed by our scientists, doctors were able to monitor the levels of cancer in her blood throughout the pregnancy and treat her with a gentler drug called ATRA, keeping her cancer at bay while protecting the twins until they were born. A year later, Vanessa was in remission and able to enjoy life with her young family.

3. "The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government."

Something you might not know is that we have a policy and public affairs team here at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research working to make sure the interests of blood cancer patients are promoted in the public eye and in parliament. For example, our team recently attended the Conservative Party conference in Manchester where our priorty was to promote TAP, our exciting new programme for delivering clinical trials that helps deliver life-saving new treatments to more patients.

Our Research Director Professor Chris Bunce and Barbara McLaughlan from Novartis shared a platform with John Glen MP, the parliamentary aid to Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government where they presented TAP to an invited policy audience.

One of the exciting things about TAP, and the reason it is of such interest to the pharmaceutical industry, the NHS and other health providers, is that the innovative system has the potential to be used for clinical trials for other cancers and diseases, bringing benefit that reaches even wider than blood cancer patients. (You can find out more about TAP here.)

4. "Everyone has the right to rest and leisure."

At Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, we want all blood cancer patients to achieve 100% quality of life, to live the life they would have lived without blood cancer. We are making great progress but we still have some way to go.

Recently, thanks to the generosity of the supporters of the Alternative Hair Show, we were able to take 20 families who had been affected by blood cancer for a break in Disneyland. After coping with years of regular hospital visits, chemotherapy, Hickman lines and personal tragedy this was for many families a very rare chance indeed to enjoy some rest and leisure time as a family.

You can read more about the families on the Disney trip on my blog here

5. "Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits."

Thanks to our amazing fundraisers, the scientific advancement in the field of blood cancers is moving forward every day. Improving our understanding of how blood cancers work means we can develop new treatments, take a look at this blog by researcher Vicky Forster to find out what a difference this is making.

If you'd like an example of how Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research supporters are promoting the arts and the cultural life of their community, look no further than the amazing amateur Calendar Girls actors! Inspired by the original Calendar Girls, amateur theatre performers across the country are raising funds and awareness by performing Tim Firth's moving play.

When you support Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research you are impacting people's lives in so many different positive ways. With your help, we can keep on protecting and improving human lives for many years to come.