Once upon a time there was a beautiful teenage girl who had everything to live for and a bright future ahead.. Then she began to experience severe abdominal pain and irregular bleeding.. She was sensible and body conscious and went to her doctor immediately.
You and I both know that charities are great at churning out stats, but with one in eight men (and an astonishing one in four black men) affected by prostate cancer in their lifetime, these numbers quickly become brothers, best mates, uncles, grandfathers, and even sons.
Up until last spring I had been enjoying life as a healthy gym bunny, always outgoing and taking on everything life had to offer. I had noticed I'd been feeling more tired lately, and had a feeling that something wasn't right - but I never expected to hear the C word.
Kate Gross, my friend and our founding CEO in AGI, died on Christmas day after a two year battle with cancer. Our last conversation was some weeks before, sitting in the November sun in Cambridge. She knew the chemo was coming to an end and we both knew what came next. But that wasn't what we talked about.
So when I began to have irregular periods I put it down to coming off the contraceptive pill, after all I had only just had my routine PAP with clear results! With that security I felt like, I'm guessing most people do, it will never happen to me...! I was wrong...
To come to the realisation that you have cancer and that there is a chance I won't survive - that I won't see my kids grow up is overwhelming. I was also convinced the cancer would spread, that with every ache and pain the cancer had returned.
When the first #SmearForSmear selfies started popping up on my newsfeed, I couldn't help but let out a disappointed groan. For me, the suggestion that women need yet another thinly-related social media campaign to make them take their health seriously is all a bit patronising.
I hope that this generation learn from us; look after your health, it is the most important asset you have. You may think that your health and your fertility is a given and that when you decide it's the right time to have a baby it will somehow just happen.
In my dance with the dreaded C word, strange things have happened. This journey isn't one on which the expected happens, simply by the fact that its nature is to be unexpected. No one expects to have cancer, especially young...
It's every mother's greatest fear that she will have to leave her children. My daughter Kate Gross lived with that fear for more than two years, before she died of colon cancer a few weeks ago. I wish she was here now so I could tell her that the boys are getting on just fine. Oscar and Isaac were three when Kate was first diagnosed. Twins, but very different little beings. Oscar dark-haired, violet-eyed, solid - and with an astonishing ability (in Kate's words) to 'focus on things, to know them utterly'. Isaac, blond and agile and restless. 'Each of them,' she says, 'carved out his own space in my heart, a space which fits him exactly.'
Prevention treatment as with cancer and other illnesses is the key to better health. Specialist units need to be available for everybody with mental health problems, because early prevention helps with the cure.
It's here again: Blue Monday - the start of the third week in January is allegedly the most depressing day of the year. There's no actual scientific evidence to back this up but it's the kind of theory that feels true whether there's any real science behind it or not.
Nothing will give you more of that warm and fuzzy feeling than giving a bit of your time and lending your awesome skills to a cancer charity looking for someone just like you. You see, many charities have little money available to pay for superb individuals like you who are essential for their latest project.
I know that most of my female friends and family members hate their bodies to varying degrees in a way that the blokes I know just don't. Not to the same bottomless extent, anyway. And it makes me indescribably sad. How else could we be spending that time?!
It seems to me, after seeing a dear friend die over a prolonged period, as he endured the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy in a last ditch attempt to gain a few more precious days/weeks with his family, that anything we can do to make the treatment more bearable, let alone more successful than some of the current treatment options, has got be a good thing.
Early diagnosis of cancer is the key to improving survival rates. This is an area where the NHS has been lagging behind when compared to other developed countries. Not surprisingly, the government is targeting improvements and rightly so. Clinical leadership is being promoted and doctors have been entrusted with the responsibility of increasing awareness in the population about different types of cancer.