Cancer affects everyone. One in two of us will get diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives.
Whenever I need to process something tricky or seemingly insurmountable I write a list. It helps me order my thoughts. So here goes...
● If you are lucky enough to be one of the people to avoid getting cancer, someone you know will almost certainly be diagnosed with some form of the disease.
● It'd be easier to bury your head in the sand about it.
● But one way or the other, that choice of blissful ignorance is taken out of your hands.
● We lost my father-in-law to cancer six years ago. And it's impossible to articulate the ramifications.
● That fateful phone call.
● Watching your husband receiving the news that his father has cancer.
● The immediate mix of emotions: fearing the worst, but hoping for the best.
● From there the cancer happened slowly. Even in a relatively aggressive form.
● You go to bed that night as you always did. But wake up with that unconscious innate knowledge that something isn't as it was.
● And then you remember.
● But still life carries on.
● The first time you see the person that's been diagnosed they seem, well, the same. They don't look like they have cancer. They look like the same person.
● There's always a reason to stay positive.
● A milestone to look forward to.
● A person with a positive story you can to cling on to.
● And of course the potential of a breakthrough thanks to the wonderful research and work that campaigns like Cancer Research UK's Stand Up To Cancer funds.
● And so cancer seems OK.
● The effects are more a sum of lots of small parts than anything sudden, big or frightening.
● A loss of appetite here.
● A persistent cough there.
● A secret wince.
● A frailer hug.
● But then before you know it, it's taken hold.
● The brave faces are harder to maintain. Each moment more pertinent.
● Those last days of someone's life aren't something you can't easily describe.
● Sacred. Precious. Scary. Beautiful. Unforgettable.
● And then the unthinkable, 'the worst case scenario' is upon you.
● Bizarrely there is a peace in the reality of death rather than the dread of it.
● And the clichés of being glad the battle is over are very true.
● But you know the awful thing about cancer?
● Its impact is felt for long after death. Birthdays. Christmas and most of all the arrival of grandchildren that person never got to meet.
● You feel sad for you, because you miss them. You feel heartbroken for your husband for not having a father.
● But, most of all, you feel devastated for the person who was robbed of life.
● All the 'should have, would have, could haves'.
● The same old jokes they never got to tell.
● The moments they would have relished and enhanced.
● So why have I got involved with this campaign? Because I'd like to translate that sadness into a positive. Take the anger I feel on behalf of my kids, my father-in-law and my husband and turn it into a rebellion against cancer.
● Having spoken to professors, clever folks in research labs and the people working tirelessly at Cancer Research UK, I feel optimistic for the future rather than scared about the odds of diagnosis.
● They are making progress all the time, every day. All they need to continue to do it is funds from people like me and you.
● Together we have got this.
● Cancer. You can't escape it.
● Doesn't mean we will let it defeat us.
Clemmie Telford is founder of 'Mother Of All Lists', a collection of lists about parenting and more. Clemmie is supporting Stand Up To Cancer, a joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 to accelerate ground-breaking cancer research and save more lives, more quickly.