‘It’s so important that we fight this horrible disease’

Colleagues across Riverside have so far raised more than £80,000 for Cancer Research UK as part of a three-year £100,000 campaign to help beat the disease.

As we approach Mother’s Day (Sunday 26 March), Patricia Christie, our Aids and Adaptations Coordinator for the North and East, explains why supporting the fight against cancer matters so much to her…

I know only too well the pain and suffering that cancer causes. That’s why I feel so strongly about supporting CRUK.

Patricia Christie support Cancer Research UK

My first encounter with the disease was over 40 years ago when a colleague’s 18-month-old daughter died following a diagnosis of a tumour in her throat. At that time, I thought cancer was a very rare condition. How wrong could I be? 

Not long after, my grandmother was diagnosed with a tumour in her stomach. I was told that she wouldn’t survive long enough to attend my wedding. Thankfully she did and she lived long enough to be the first person to hold my son, her first great grandchild.

The following year my aunt, who was my godmother, was diagnosed and died from throat cancer. She never smoked or drank in her life. In 1996, my father died three weeks after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. It had gone undetected and had spread rapidly to his lungs and throat. It broke my heart to see my dad being taken slowly and painfully from me. 

The last gift I gave to my dad was a single red rose for Valentine’s Day 1996 – he died shortly after on 17th February and the hurt never ever goes away. 

In 1999, three years later, my Mum was diagnosed with a similar condition – she died on Mother’s Day the same year.  Surely that is more than enough, you would think, but NO.

My son was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was 19. He received treatment but it returned a year later. He is now 34 and I thank God that he was successfully treated with radiotherapy. He is still regularly monitored and thankfully the tumour hasn’t returned. 

Currently my cousin is being treated for brain and lung cancer, and her mum, who was diagnosed at the same time, has just undergone a course of radiotherapy for lung cancer. 

Over the last few years we have lost four Riverside colleagues in Carlisle to this horrible disease and others are still fighting it. It is thanks to the advance in treatments that they are hopefully going to win their own personal battles.

It is frightening to see how many people are now affected and I will do all that I can to raise awareness and to raise money to help find a cure so that other families do not suffer the pain, hurt and loss that my family has endured.

Remember this illness knows no boundaries; it does not discriminate. That’s why it’s so important that we do all we can to fight it, and why I’m proud that my Riverside colleagues are supporting CRUK and raising funds to find a cure.