At some point in the last few years, long before I was diagnosed, I changed my approach to charitable giving. I’d always found the ongoing series of Justgiving emails in the workplace an irritant. To be ignored.
And then I started donating. Little and often. Anonymous amounts. Nothing life changing but something that could help boost an individual fund raising effort.
I once got a call thanking me for my three figure donation. That was embarrassing as I had to admit to a smaller sum going into the pot. Another donor had made the more generous contribution.
Then comes my diagnosis. And suddenly I’m keen to support charities that may help me. Small and often still being my donation amount. But this time targeted.
And my two charities of choice, and recipients of a monthly direct debit, are Roy Castle Lung Cancer Centre and MacMillan nurses.
It was passive smoking that did for Roy Castle, the bloke who used to present Record Breakers on the telly. It was also his birthday yesterday. Whereas smoking is nothing to do with my lung cancer. I find myself, just occasionally, irritated by their publicity and campaigns that focus so much on smoking, stopping and testing smokers for early signs of lung cancer (catch it early, cure it).
But that’s just an in built selfishness on my part. I want them to focus on my specific gene mutation and managing the spread of my illness. They were very good when I (or rather my sister) approached them for assistance in how to manage my side effects. Actually taking the time to ring the drug company and come back with an answer to a question they’d not encountered before.
MacMillan nurses were there in the early days of my NHS treatment. Documenting meetings (I assume they were making sure it was clear I knew I was done for, with no ambiguity!). More importantly they did the paperwork to ensure I receive the modest state benefits I’m entitled to. It’s money I use to pay for foot care at the moment. As I’m just about unable to cut my own toe nails I’m willingly handing over cash each month for private podiatry.
As my treatment has become a “success”, the nurses have vanished into the background. They no longer witness my consultations with Oncobabe. If one of them reappears on Monday I’ll fear the worst!
Ultimately, I support these two organisations for absolutely selfish reasons. One might come up with magical research that cures me, or buys me an extra decade of life. The other will literally hold my hand, straighten my pillows and bring me water as I fade out of this life, pleased with who I am, frustrated by mistakes I made and happy that my kids are strong enough to lead their own lives.