Hope is what all cancer patients want – and these amazing new treatments could be it

SOMETIMES all we need is a little bit of hope.

Hope helps us all, but it's especially important when you have cancer.

It's what you cling on to, with every ounce of energy you have.

There are days when you feel like all hope is lost – days when you hear friends with this b*stard disease have died.

Days when scans show a new tumour has reared its ugly head and is invading a new part of your body.

But then there are days like I had last week, when you see the amazing things that are being done to fight cancer.

I have seen there is hope.

Hope in the shape of incredible scientists, researchers, doctors and nurses, who are working to achieve amazing things – right now.

Their work is what could give people like me a chance at outsmarting this disease.

Living with stage four bowel cancer, all I want is hope. Hope and some options.

'The stats give me no hope… I shouldn't be here'

Because if I look at the stats, all hope is lost.

Only seven per cent of people diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer survive for five years or longer.

I'm nearly two years down, and still trying to defy that stat.

Instead, I focus on the miracles… those people whose cancer was stopped in its tracks by pioneering treatments, by clever new drugs that show cancer who's boss.

Last week I was lucky enough to go to an event put on by The Royal Mardsen and the Institute of Cancer Research.

They were showcasing some of the latest innovations in cancer care and treatment.

'But scientists are doing incredible things'

Now, I am realistic… for me it is probably too late.

The chance of me still being here to benefit from these pioneering therapies is slim, but it gives me hope.

Dr Nicola Valeri, my oncologist at The Marsden was talking about mini tumours – replicas of patient's tumours that can be grown in the lab.

All I want is hope, and while I know full well all this is unlikely to save me, it makes me feel better for my kids

The idea is they can help doctors predict which treatments will work best, and which won't work at all.

Clever scientists grow these "mini tumours" from biopsy samples.

And then they give various treatments a test run and cuts out the trial and error that's currently needed – often exhausting patients and leaving them feeling cr*p.

It allows doctors to design personalised treatments.

Each tumour is unique to the person, so by building a plan that is bespoke scientists hope it can revolutionise care.

'One day new scanner could cure cancer in ONE blast'

Then there's a groundbreaking new machine called the MR Linac – the first of its kind in the UK.

Dr Katherine Aitken told me it combines MRI scans with radiotherapy – directing radiation in real time, and delivering really targeted radiotherapy without damaging healthy tissue.

She said experts are hopeful that the technology will, one day, allow them to cure some cancers in a single treatment.

Next up, is the Da Vinci robot.

Dr Asif Chaudry, a consultant surgeon, told me the robot enables doctors to see in detail 3D images of tumours.

Its "arms" allow for tiny movements and the "hand" can rotate 360 degrees – it's so clever it can even skin a grape.

The features make it much more accurate for the patients and can even treat hard to reach tumours.

'I cried with one scientist – as we both saw it from the other's point of view'

Last stop on my tour of labs this week was the Francis Crick Institute – home to the Cancer Research UK labs.

Wearing a fetching lab coat, I spent an evening in awe of the incredible teams and their work.


At one point they showed us a blender – yep, a regular kitchen blender – they use to mash up tumours before spreading them into petri dishes and slides.

Speaking to one researcher left me in tears.

We both ended up crying, as she realised just what an impact her work might one day have.

For me, I was just overwhelmed and grateful for people like her, working tirelessly behind the scenes trying to help people like me.

'It's probably too late for me, but there's hope for my kids'

I hadn't truly realised just how much work it takes to fight cancer.

So, to all the researchers, scientists, oncologists, charities and the public – who donate money to fund these treatments – I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To everyone who is working to stop cancer ruining lives, thank you.

All I want is hope, and while I know full well all this is unlikely to save me, it makes me feel better for my kids.

That maybe, just maybe they won't have to live in a world where cancer kills, and they won't have to face what I'm facing.

My new book F*** You Cancer is available to buy now – and gives a brutally honest view of what cancer is really like – buy it here now

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