It was all about the ‘c’ word wasn’t it? No not cancer, the other one. Yes, CURE.

We had to wonder what Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research (LLR) were up to when it was announced they weren’t going to have an annual conference this year and instead have an Impact Day. What would the impact be? Were we simply victims of yet another marketing experiment to re-brand what we already knew? No. This was a day filled with hope, emotion, researchers, scientists, (the) Calendar Girls, volunteers, patients and the amazing staff at LLR. Credit has to be given to, Chief Executive, Cathy Gilman who has energised the charity, brought everyone together and invested in a challenging vision.

There was a distinct split between the morning and afternoon sessions and the morning documented how far blood cancer treatment had come. The day opened with the inspirational Daisy Turner, a transplant patient now in remission, who set the scene. I was privileged to have been asked to speak along with another patient Federica Nardella, a lymphoma patient. We provided the personal stories, first hand, for Dr Emma Morris and Professor David Grimwade, research scientists for LLR, who are the most engaging, lovely people you could wish to meet. We spoke about the magnificent treatment advancements, in particular the targeted therapies which are saving lives, like mine, and revolutionising the blood cancer battle. It was a humbling moment for me to be able to talk to an audience of fund-raisers and supporters whose efforts saved my life and given me a son. Only through the hard work of professionals like my consultant Charlie Craddock, Dr Emma, Professor David and Research Director of LLR, Chris Bunce, I got my life back. I’m just one voice, there are thousands. It’s that important.

It was fiercely obvious the afternoon was about business, not the dull stuff bathed in facts and figures, but where the charity is going next. Even though treatment has been revolutionised: more and more patients are being treated successfully, dare I say cured, the charity told us they are steadfast in not stopping until everyone is saved. I was particularly captivated by one of their mission statements which proclaimed, “We stop people dying from blood cancer“. Brave, bold and scary all at the same time. All of the work and methodology over the next 5 years is heading towards finding cures, making the lives of patients better and being daring. Yoda in the The Empire Strikes Back said, “Do or do not, there is no try” – whilst proving my geek credentials I also believe this is the direction LLR are taking. There is no middle ground here, they will either cure blood cancers or they won’t. If they don’t the progress made whilst trying is worth the effort and contemplation alone.

So at last we have a charity who are trying to do what is said in their literature: beating blood cancers. The room was invigorated, people filed out with renewed drive and determination. I felt like we were all part of something very special and what made this extra special was that there wasn’t a politician or bureaucrat in sight telling us we couldn’t do it. I don’t think they’d dare. There was grit and conviction and most importantly belief. Bravery too and the courage to make a real Impact on a perfect Day.