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By Meleni Aldridge, executive coordinator

Yes to life is a UK-based charity that’s very close to our ANH heart. Not just because Rob Verkerk PhD has been involved as a scientific advisor for 15 years and is now their science lead, or because its founder, Robin Daly, has devoted the last 20 years of his life to doggedly and determinedly ensuring its success and extensive support for people who need it. But, rather, because Yes to Life fulfils a unique, critical role and an otherwise unmet need for people newly diagnosed or living with cancer. Despite us being 24 years into the 21st century, a cancer diagnosis still, all too often, brings with it a tsunami of fear, pressure, bullying and a feeling that too often makes cancer patients feel like unwanted bystanders in their own healing journey.

“Love as the guiding principle for cancer care.”

- Yes to Life

At the diametric opposite end of the spectrum lies the UK charity Yes to Life, which chooses love as the guiding principle for cancer care. If you think that’s too fluffy and toothless to have any real effect with such a disease as cancer, you’d be so wrong. One glance at its list of medical supporters, scientific and medical advisory board, trustees and patrons is testimony to the breadth of support this small charity has been able to manifest, one that supports so many and punches well above its weight. It’s always been evidence-based (while its view on relevant evidence may differ from mainstream cancer charities), but it's also fearless in pursuing new science that may lead to breakthroughs in cancer care and not in the slightest cowed by the mainstream cancer establishment.

>>> Please consider getting involved and supporting the vital work of Yes to Life in any way you can

Celebrating 20 years

Rob Verkerk, Melissa Smith and I were thrilled to attend Yes to Life’s 20-year celebration at the House of Commons, Westminster, London on Saturday 6th April. We were 3 out of a couple of hundred supporters, donors, advisors, patrons and trustees who turned out to honour founder and Chairman, Robin Daly, his wife Nancy and their indomitable team, for their 20 years of dedicated and committed care for those living with cancer, but also to the ongoing education, research and investigations into new and potentially life-changing treatments.

Yes to Life was inspired by Robin and Nancy's daughter, Bryony, who as a young woman, succumbed to a rare muscle tumour without having had knowledge of, or access to, the myriad treatment options that are available through integrative cancer care. Yes to Life follows an holistic approach and emphasises the importance of the mental, emotional and spiritual state of those with cancer. Along with physical needs, they consider all these aspects as central to any treatment programme.

For two decades the Yes to Life team have been supporting individuals via:

  • a helpline
  • the website
  • the National Centre for Integrative Cancer Care
  • information via blogs
  • publications
  • the weekly Yes to Life Radio Show on UK Health Radio
  • the CANCERTALK Podcast
  • their Wigwam cancer support groups
  • wellbeing sessions
  • peer-to-peer support service
  • an e-learning platform for healthcare professionals
  • regular public events and workshops

Below is a short video clip to give you a flavour of the passion, love and energy shared in Westminster, 6th April 2024 by two patrons, actor Barbara Flynn and Chris Lewis, both of whom who raise important points about why we so need to change the way in which we treat cancer.

>>> Visit Yes to Life for more information on receiving support through cancer care or further training for health professionals

>>> To watch the rest of the excellent speeches, including those from senior NHS clinical oncologist, Dr Penny Kechagioglou, renowned BBC presenter, Sheila Dillon and leading authority on cancer, Prof Karol Sikora, click here

The Yes to Life Charter for Oncology

“In the world of healthcare, where the delicate balance between science and compassion plays a pivotal role, the ‘Yes to Life Charter for Oncology’ aims to bring inspirational vision for the evolution of the relationship between oncology professionals and patients.”

- Yes to life, April 2024

Everyone facing the challenge of a cancer diagnosis deserves both leading-edge medical treatments and unwavering empathy and support. These can be some of the darkest days in a person’s life, yet sadly, in too many instances the standard of care doesn’t even come close. Hence, this new charter seeks to redefine the standards of care in the entire area of oncology.

The Charter is more than just a set of guidelines; it’s a manifesto for change. Although directed at the UK’s NHS cancer service, the vision applies to any oncology delivery in any country given that it seamlessly integrates the latest advancements in medical science with a compassionate and humanistic approach that will radically improve the experience of cancer care and support patients in meeting the immense challenges of coming to terms with a life that will never be the same.

To achieve this, mainstream cancer care as we currently know it, must transform to extend well beyond clinical expertise, to encompass a deep appreciation of the emotional, psychological, social and even economic dimensions of the patient’s experience — and to put the person at the centre of their own healing journey, listening to, and acknowledging, their needs and wishes.

The Yes to Life Charter for Oncology sets out the charity’s aspirational vision for the qualities that will underpin a modern, empathic and caring cancer service to meet the needs of current and future patients.

At ANH, we applaud this long-awaited initiative and ask that you show your support by signing the petition today and sharing the Charter with oncology and other health professionals in your area or country.

>>> Read the full ‘Yes to Life Charter for Oncology’


>>> Please consider getting involved and supporting the vital work of Yes to Life in any way you can


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