It might seem crazy what I’m about to say

Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care baby by the way

Happy by Pharrell Williams

There was a definite happy vibe at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research’s Impact Day yesterday at the Tower Hotel in London. Impact Day is the charity’s annual conference, with a difference. It’s clearly deigned to have an impact on the audience. It did just that! The delegates made up from fundraisers, patients, carers, researchers, Doctors, clinicians, nurses, family members and staff from the charity, were given a blast of progress. What progress! I lost count of the number of times the word ‘cure’ was used. There is a genuine belief that they are the cusp of greatness and whilst looking back at the roots of the charity it truly felt we were standing on the shoulders of giants.

The countless lost to blood cancer over the years has not been in vain, not a bucket rattle wasted and not a clinical trail regretted. We heard about the progress in Childhood Leukaemia (Professor Christine Harrison), Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (Professor Paresh Vyas and Advanced Nurse Practitioner Kirsty Crozier) and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia and Lymphoma (Professor Chris Pepper). Matt Kaizer, Chris West and David Henderson all spoke, with great conviction, about the role of the charity in research, policy and insight respectively. It’s great to see Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research taking policy and insight so seriously, both done well will save lives, albeit in a different way to research; equally important though.

The audience, which was considerably larger than last year, hung on every statistic and anecdote. There were tears and there was admiration. Particular memories for me included the progress in childhood leukaemia where survival rates are now over 90% and the passion in which Kirsty Crozier spoke about her ‘calling’ as a Nurse. It was good to hear Professor Pyas say that the Cancer Drugs Fund has been, “transformational” and Professor Pepper suggest that the best way to make drugs affordable is to create competition in the marketplace. It certainly gives me renewed vigour in hearing that.

A chap called Kris Griffin (!) spoke about patient support and the new online patient services being offered by the charity and Dr Peter Campbell who is Head of Cancer Genetics and Genomics at the Wellcome Sanger Institute gave the audience an insight into individually tailored treatment plans. The progress is more than a little mind-blowing, costs are reducing as is the time taken to sequence; the impact on patient treatment immeasurable.

The day was hosted impeccably by Professor Chris Bunce, whose must surely be a shoo-in to replace Brucie on Strictly, such is his calm, smiling, brilliant demeanour. The day was rounded up perfectly with a closing address by Chief Executive Cathy Gilman who summed up with ease and grace. The hope. The joy. The memory of those that we have lost. The joy that we are step closer to a cure.

Life is a gift. Use it wisely and live it fiercely.
Cathy Gilman

Each loss hurts more now. That we are so close means the pressure is truly on. I can hear buckets being rattled harder, more cakes being baked, running further, cycling harder. To hope. True impact. With heartfelt thanks to everyone, everyday. More happy days.

And all this from a charity who started, quite humbly, in 1960. A seemingly impossible task. This is just the start. Beware cancer, we’re coming for you!

Kris Griffin (middle) with the Patient Services team and CEO Cathy Gilman from Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research at Impact Day 2014

Kris Griffin (middle) with the patient services team and CEO Cathy Gilman from Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research