WORLD CANCER DAY
By Bradley Gudger from London, UK
The Diana Award recipient Brad is passionate about having young people’s voices heard. Through his work he has changed government policy in the UK and at EU level and helped develop services for young people in healthcare, sitting on the NHS Youth Forum and Youth Cancer Europe’s General Assembly.
Brad has also founded his own youth-led charity, Alike which tackles isolation amongst young people with cancer providing them with a national peer support app and UK-wide peer support groups.
4th February 2020
Cancer. A word that carries a meaning like no other, especially to me and the 17 million people facing this diagnosis every year.
Cancer has been a part of my life for almost seven years now. I was diagnosed with Leukaemia on the 13th June 2013. I was 19 at the time. The news was earth shattering. I was numb. My life was altered, forever. It sounds cliché but it’s really the only way I can put it into words. After months of treatment, I put my life back on track, moved down to London and created a new life for myself. Then the Leukaemia came back in August 2017. This time the treatment was a bone marrow transplant, which I was lucky to receive in January 2018.
“Two years later, thanks to countless medications and tireless work done by NHS staff, I am Leukaemia free (it feels surreal writing that). However, cancer is still a huge part of my life.”
The experience will stay with me for the rest of my life, the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s shaped my life in a way I never, ever, imagined. I have worked with national charities, advised NHS senior leadership, contributed to various (national and international) policies, been a technical advisor for the World Health Organization and, of course, received The Diana Award. While all these extraordinary opportunities have been incredible, founding my own organisation to unite our community has truly changed my life, and will hopefully change others too.
During my treatment, I spent two months in hospital. Although I had a great support network around me, I felt separated from the world. I felt completely lonely. I knew from meeting others through volunteering with CLIC Sargent, Teenage Cancer Trust and the NHS Youth Forum that I wasn’t the only one. Isolation is a huge problem for young people faced with a cancer diagnosis, so I created Alike; a national peer support charity led by lived experience. Our mission is to combat this isolation and loneliness. We are currently developing our primary service, a game changing app that will give users access to a community of patients and survivors.
Brad received his Diana Award at the London Award Ceremony in July 2019.
Today is World Cancer Day (WCD) 2020. A day marked on February 4th each year to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage prevention, detection, and treatment. Due to its significance, WCD means different things to different people. Some people are sad, some are happy, some are grateful and some are angry. It’s a reality for this community of people. Whilst I don’t need a day to remember what I’ve been through, it’s not lost on me that there has been some incredible work done because of this day. Stories are told, awareness is raised and much needed money is raised internationally. This WCD I’m remembering the people who aren’t with us today, and honouring their memory by working to ensure that no one has to face cancer alone.