Before my mam was diagnosed with cancer, my life had been pretty unscathed by it's repugnant and devastating touch. I'd give money to coffee mornings, wear ribbons and watch campaign adverts, but (now ashamedly) without any real contemplation of it's impact. I was one of the many ostriches burying my head in the sands of 'it'll never happen to me'. But it did; it tore my world apart, broke me in unimaginable ways and wrenched from me something I will never get back.
That's what a cancer does. By it's very definition it is something which 'causes uncontrollable divisions' or is an 'evil or destructive practice that is hard to contain or eradicate'. I wish there was a cure, I wish there was one a year ago, I wish there was one today, but the sad truth of the matter is that there isn't (not yet!). 'In the last 40 years supporter-funded research has helped double UK survival rates' (Cancer Research UK), but we cannot be content with that, we have to strive for more. And although, yes today, on World Cancer Day, there isn't a definitive solution to cancer, on the day where Cancer Research UK encourages us to take an #ActofUnity, it would seem that there is one tangible solution, if we all decide to take our heads out of the sand.
If it was not for the coming-together of friends, family members, health professionals, colleagues, neighbours and kind strangers, my mam's battle with the alien would have been even worse, the Harper's would be irreparable and I dread to think of where I would be right now.
In a moment of chaos, upheaval and fear it is understandable why some people let go, turn their backs or flee, but it is in that very moment that we should do the opposite; cling tighter, face it head on and run right into the epicenter screaming 'I am not alone!'.
I am not religious or overly spiritual, but we do not have a choice over the fact that we are all here on this planet and we are all a part of the same human race; none of us can win if one of us is losing. We may not see it, its effect may not be on our door step, we might not think we can make a difference, but a threat to one of us is a threat to all of us, and for that reason we must invest in everyone's battles, in every cancerous threat that exists; the rare sarcoma that took my mam, the internal battle of a friend's mental ill health that is spreading throughout their lives, the 'evil or destructive practices' that are building momentum throughout the world and dividing whole communities. We must unite.
Every gender must march with women
Every race must proclaim 'Black Lives Matter'
Irrespective of sexuality, we are all Orlando
And so many more. I digress, but you get the idea.
It took a life-shattering event to happen to me before I really joined the battle against cancer. I can't expect people to crusade with me if I don't also raise their flags too. We will never succeed if we stand alone in our camps. We can only win if we unite.
So take the first step today, World Cancer Day - share links, pass on a leaflet, go get checked by your GP, donate money, buy a unity band, talk to someone who has been diagnosed, celebrate the lives of those no longer with us, check in with those who have lost people to this awful disease.
This is everyone's battle.