This year's theme was childhood blood cancer. We focused on the need to find better, less toxic treatments for children with blood cancer. The month included lots of highlights for Bloodwise, including a large-scale sculpture exhibition, the launch of a major new report and a family sharing their experience with blood cancer story in a brave and public way. Here’s an overview of what you helped us achieve over the four weeks.
Make Blood Cancer Visible
Pharmaceutical company Janssen launched a large-scale outdoor exhibition, Make Blood Cancer Visible, on 3 September. The installation was in place in central London’s Paternoster Square, right next to St Paul’s Cathedral, throughout the month. It comprised 104 sculptures – the number of people diagnosed every day in the UK.
The sculptures took the form of the first names of actual blood cancer patients and were the exact height of each of the patients, demonstrating how blood cancer is indiscriminate and can affect anyone at any time. 15 of our own ambassadors were included in the installation. The exhibition was a joint venture with a number of other blood cancer charities including the Lymphoma Association, Myeloma UK and Leukaemia CARE.
Nick Clegg and Miriam González Durántez speak about their son’s lymphoma diagnosis
On 13 September, Nick Clegg and Miriam González Durántez spoke publicly for the first time about their son’s blood cancer diagnosis. Clegg, former Deputy Prime Minister, and González Durántez, a lawyer, featured as guests on ITV’s Lorraine show to discuss their son Antonio’s experience with stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma.
They explained how Antonio, now 15, was diagnosed last year after he found a small, painless lump in his neck. An ultrasound scan and biopsy revealed the cancer and he was treated with four monthly cycles of chemotherapy, a course of heavy steroids and a barrage of medication. Following his treatment at University College Hospital in London, Antonio is now in remission.
Nick and Miriam wrote a blog for us about their wish for a kinder cure for childhood cancer and Nick also wrote a feature for the i newspaper. The story of the family’s experience with blood cancer received around 140 follow-up pieces of media coverage mentioning Bloodwise, including articles in all major UK newspapers plus radio and television interviews, including Sky News, BBC Radio 5 Live, ITV Yorkshire and Channel 5 News.
Our new report on childhood blood cancer
Also on 13 September, we launched a major new report Childhood blood cancer; the quest for a kinder cure. The report outlines the need for more research to find better, less toxic treatments for children with blood cancer. It discusses the severe side effects which children on current treatments experience and explores where breakthroughs are being made and how progress can be accelerated.
Nick Clegg and Miriam González Durántez wrote the foreword for the report and appeared as guests at our launch event at the Wellcome Collection that evening. The event featured a Q&A hosted by John Illman, the author of the report, who was joined by Professor Tariq Enver, Professor Christine Harrison, Professor Josef Vormoor, our Director of Research Dr Alasdair Rankin and our Ambassador Andy Jackson.
During Blood Cancer Awareness Month we shared the story of Hugo and his experience with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
Hugo began to have problems with his mobility when he was two years old. Over the next few weeks he became tired and pale, his glands swelled and he lost his appetite. After a number of tests, it was finally confirmed that Hugo had CHALL.
Hugo, now four, is in his third and final year of treatment. Hugo’s mum Lisa said: "my little boy owes his life to past research projects funded by Bloodwise. The donations go to research that is, has, and will continue to make a difference.”
Our poster campaigns
During September our regional offices encouraged our supporters to post photos on social media of themselves holding up a Bloodwise poster. There were two different options: a Quest For a Cure poster, which could be coloured in; and a When I Grow Up poster with which supporters could share their childhood dream job (dressing up was encouraged for these photos).These campaigns helped raise awareness of the scale and effects of childhood leukaemia as well as the need for kinder treatments. The wide array of of supporters who took part include the research staff at Cardiff University, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh Frank Ross and actor Hugh Bonneville.
- Our supporters held their own afternoon tea events around the country as part of our Tea with the Girls campaign
- For Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia Day, our Ambassador Andy Jackson wrote a blog about his experience with CML
- Bloodwise Ambassador Katy Burnett wrote a blog about late side effects and secondary cancer
Thanks to all of our ambassadors, donors and supporters for your help throughout the month. We look forward to Blood Cancer Awareness Month 2018!