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Mark’s story: “CReST is an important roadmap for patients like me in Wales”

As Wales Cancer Research Centre’s Research Partner for North Wales, I have a particular interest in CReSt, the newly published strategy. My role in the organisation is to help guide cancer research activity at a lay level, with a firm emphasis on ensuring patients’ best interests are maintained.

Some years ago, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma and then treated with R-CHOP chemotherapy. With the good care of a first class team of medics and nurses at Gwynedd Hospital, Bangor, I gained long lasting remission. My takeaway from this experience is to marvel at the treatment and to thank my lucky stars that such amazing medicine was around when I needed it.

I was able to turn this unwelcome episode into a positive through joining the Wales Cancer Research Centre as a Research Partner and making a small contribution of my time to cancer research. CReSt has been a major project for the WCRC: defining the priorities in research together with a vision of how to progress it. Research partners have made an active contribution to its development. Seeing the world from the patients’ perspective, and having an awareness of their concerns and priorities, gives their input plenty of focus.

The value of collaboration between individuals and bodies who are active in research comes across loud and clear in the strategy. From my viewpoint, seeing how cancer research groups manage to work in concert has been inspiring. The old maxim of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts certainly applies here.

For cancer patients in Wales, to receive care from people involved in research is a real bonus. It could mean they have access to clinical trials involving the latest treatments. Also, patients are known to fare better when diagnosed and treated in an organisation which conducts research studies. Perhaps better staff are attracted to work in healthcare units with a reputation for clinical research.

For society, more cancer research means less cancer and more successful treatment. Beyond the gains for patients and their relatives, this equation gives wide economic benefits as a result of less sickness and it all adds volume to the life sciences sector in Wales.

There is much to be gained by us all from more cancer research in Wales. Now we have a clear roadmap going forward. As a Research Partner I look forward to the journey.