Multiple gold-medallist Dame Sarah Storey turned out to lend her support to a new £535,000 pledge from Boot Out Breast Cancer (BOBC) to The Christie charity to help breast cancer patients in Greater Manchester.
Dame Sarah, who has won multiple gold medals at the Paralympic Games in both swimming and cycling, marked the launch of the three year deal which will support an initiative to give more breast cancer patients in Greater Manchester access to clinical trials.
She was joined by sports pundit and former Northern Ireland international footballer, Ian Dowie and members of the BOBC committee.
Recent research has shown that there are three times more patients participating in research trials in more affluent areas of Greater Manchester than in more deprived and ethnically diverse areas of the region.
To combat this, the initiative aims to expand programmes in Wigan, Bolton, Wythenshawe, Oldham and Tameside to help better understand and develop major research across the region.
The bumper pledge from BOBC will help fund new staffing roles as part of an outreach programme to offer more patients a greater range of treatment options across Greater Manchester.
Dame Sarah, who has been a patron of BOBC since it was launched 2010. She said: “I’m delighted to support this wonderful initiative as my mother suffered from breast cancer and received wonderful care at The Christie.
“I wear the logo on my cycling jersey and bike, as do all my riders in the Storey Racing Cycling Team, which shows how proud I am to be a patron.
“To see both organisations join forces to get more women in Greater Manchester access to better treatments is amazing and I am thrilled to support it.”
BOBC was formed in 2010 by Debbie Dowie – the wife of former Northern Ireland international Iain – who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.
Each year around 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK. Diagnosis is more common in women who are over 50, although it can also affect younger women and men.
Since 2004, five year survival has increased significantly for breast cancer in the Greater Manchester region. Over 85 out of every 100 women diagnosed will survive at least five years. Greater Manchester now has a better five year survival for breast cancer than England as a whole.
This has been due to better treatments developed through clinical trials at The Christie with 95% of these delivered at the hospital’s Withington site.
Debbie Dowie, the founder of BOBC, said: “In our 10th year, we are delighted to be supporting The Christie to deliver The Boot Out Breast Cancer outreach programme which will improve access to clinical trials for people with secondary breast cancer. We hope that the new studies will benefit breast cancer patients not only in the North West but eventually throughout the UK.”
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting women, while bladder cancer is in the top 10 most common cancers for both men and women, along with kidney cancer.
Marie Toller, head of major relationships at The Christie charity, said: “We’re absolutely delighted at the generosity of Boot Out Breast Cancer and very much welcome this incredible donation.
“The Christie charity relies on the generosity of individuals and organisations which allows us to support the lifesaving and life-changing work of the Trust.”
Access to innovative new treatments in clinical trials has been proven to extend and improve the length and quality of life for cancer patients.
Breast cancer patient, Anna Friedenthal, knows just how effective clinical trials can be.
Anna said: “Over the last 15 years I have taken part in five clinical trials at The Christie.
“I firmly believe that without these trials I would not be here today. They are our hope for the future – mine, my children’s as well as so many other families in similar circumstances.
“I feel so lucky to be a patient at The Christie, it is such a centre of excellence in every way.”
The pledge will have a direct impact on ongoing research, new studies and clinical trials. The Christie research division has more than 650 open trials at any given time and is one of the biggest cancer clinical trials centres in Europe.
Professor Andrew Wardley, Medical Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Manchester Clinical Research Facility (CRF) at The Christie and lead for The Christie and Manchester Breast Centre Clinical Research Team, said: “Recent work shows that there is three times more research participation in affluent areas close to the four clinical research facility sites in Greater Manchester than in more deprived and ethnically diverse areas.
“The lack of access to innovative cancer treatments affects members of the population that are less able to navigate the healthcare system.
“The support of Boot out Breast Cancer is a fantastic boost to our research outreach programme, which will reduce this social inequality and increase access to cutting edge cancer medicines by reaching all of Greater Manchester’s population through the development of a breast cancer research outreach team.
“We would like to offer a heartfelt thank you to Boot out Breast Cancer for supporting this enormously important strategic development by funding a ‘Boot out Breast Cancer outreach team’ to ensure equal opportunities and equity of service for all breast cancer patients across Greater Manchester and Cheshire.”
The Christie charity supports the work of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust providing enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. This includes money for care and treatment, research, education and extra patient services. Gifts from the public make a huge difference to the care and treatment that The Christie is able to provide to patients and their families.
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust was the first specialist trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ twice (in 2016 and 2018) by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It referred to The Christie as ‘a leader in cancer care’ and ‘a pioneer in developing innovative solutions to cancer care.’ The CQC praised the Trust’s staff which it said ‘go the extra mile to meet the needs of patients and their families’ and that they were ‘exceptionally kind and caring.’ In 2017, the CQC rated The Christie as the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top three trusts overall in England.
For more information on BOBC, visit the Boot Out Breast Cancer website.