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Lung cancer patient from Glossop calls for urgent investment in research after second diagnosis

A Glossop lung cancer patient has been diagnosed for the second time while helping scientists with a revolutionary research study.

And now Kelly Harrop, 48, is appealing to the North West’s philanthropists to invest in the type of research that helped to detect and treat her cancer.

Following tests to investigate digestion problems in 2015, Kelly, who has always kept fit, was stunned when doctors found a tumour on her lung at age 40.

She went from working in stables and running marathons to scheduling her life around hospital appointments.

Kelly, who lives and works on a farm in Chisworth, had never smoked but developed lung cancer due to an abnormal gene.

She had surgery to remove the tumour, followed by chemotherapy. But doctors knew there was a risk of the tumour reappearing, so they enrolled her in a new research programme, TRACERx.

Funded by Cancer Research UK, the £14m project was set up 10 years ago to find new ways to treat future patients more effectively by investigating how lung tumours evolve over time and why treatments sometimes stop working.

Kelly is closely monitored as part of the study and was given the all clear after five years. But sadly, after a recent check-up, she was told that the cancer had returned. 

She now faces uncertainly on what the future holds. Kelly said: “Because I took part in TRACERx they monitored me longer than the usual five years and it’s a good job they did as when I went last time, they said they had found more cancer. If I hadn’t been checked I wouldn’t know anything about it. Then here we are in a whirlwind of a couple of weeks, and it always seems to happen just before Christmas.

“I am now on a targeted therapy treatment which can’t cure my cancer but can slow it down. I am just getting on with my life. I love being outside in the fresh air every day, it just keeps everything normal. Then when the time comes to face things, I’ll face it then. I don’t know how long it’ll be, and so I’ll just keep doing my normal things until I can no longer do my normal things.”

Now Kelly is urging the regions philanthropists to follow her lead by supporting the launch of the charity’s new campaign More Research, Less Cancer.  

With cancer cases on the rise in the North West, and across the world,* it aims to raise £400m to help accelerate progress in the fight against the disease and is the largest ever philanthropic fundraising drive by a UK charity. 

Latest analysis from Cancer Research UK reveals around 110,000 deaths could be avoided in the UK alone over the next two decades if cancer mortality rates are reduced by 15% by 2040.** This could mean around 12,500 fewer people in the North West dying from the disease during this time.***  

Kelly added: “I didn’t get involved in TRACERx for myself. I thought it’d be good because it’ll help people in the future, and it was my way of giving something back for the treatment that I’ve had. 

“So many people’s lives are touched by this disease and the numbers are only growing. Now, I want to do everything I can to help raise vital awareness and funds. I hope that sharing my story I will inspire the philanthropic community to give what they can. I’d say to people who can donate to think about how investment now may even help yourself in the future or members of your family or friends.

“Cancer is a strange thing, it is changing all the time, making it more challenging to treat. There isn’t one treatment that is right for everyone, so it needs so much more money to keep the research going to make treatment easier and kinder for people who have cancer in the future. Hopefully one day we can beat cancer for good.”

 Joining the calls to support Cancer Research UK’s More Research, Less Cancer campaign is Professor Caroline Dive CBE, Interim Director, CRUK Manchester Institute and Director, CRUK National Biomarker Centre.

She and her fellow eminent scientists have penned an open ‘letter to the world’ warning that while we’re at a “tipping point” that could transform how we understand and treat cancer, more support for life-saving research is needed to beat the disease.  

Professor Dive said: “It’s vital that future advances are not held back by a lack of funding, when so many incredible breakthroughs are almost within our reach. “Ideas that were once science fiction, are becoming science fact. Now, we’re standing on the brink of discoveries like new blood tests that could detect cancer at an earlier stage, and algorithms that could predict someone’s cancer risk and stop it from developing in the first place. Discoveries ultimately have the power to give people in the North West – and across the world – more time with their loved ones.  

“That’s why we need more research, more research means less cancer.” 

The More Research, Less Cancer campaign will: support innovation that translates discoveries in the lab into revolutionary new tests and treatments; find and fund future leaders in cancer research; help support the work of the Francis Crick Institute; and unite global researchers to answer cancer’s toughest questions through the Cancer Grand Challenges initiative.  

It comes at a time when philanthropists are being encouraged to give. Despite analysis by the Beacon Collaborative showing that generosity among wealthy people is increasing,**** a recent report by think-tank Onward pointed out that the wealthiest 10 per cent of households now donate half as much as a proportion of their income as those in the poorest 10 per cent, suggesting they could do much more to support charitable causes worldwide.*****    

The campaign aims to recruit people with “the means and vision to bring about a better world”, to join the army of fundraisers and donors that power the charity’s life-saving research every day.   

It says, excluding research funded by industry, charities fund 62 per cent of cancer research in the UK, compared to government’s 38 per cent – reinforcing the critical importance of the public’s support.******   

Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, Jemma Humphreys said: “The more we understand about cancer, the more we understand the scale of the challenge. So, we’re grateful to Kelly and Professor Dive for lending their voices to this ambitious campaign that could have far-reaching effects for people across the region.    

 “Nearly 1 in 2 of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime******* so, now more than ever, we need the support of every person and every pound. As the scientific community has underlined, beating cancer requires a collective effort. We’re grateful to all our supporters, fundraisers and donors for their generosity and the vital part they play in helping us to ensure more people can live longer, better lives, free from the fear of cancer.”  

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