Following World Cancer Day on the 4th February, Leeds Hospitals Charity, kicked off a month-long exhibition showcasing the stories of some of those who experience both sides of cancer care here in Leeds.

Bringing together stories from outstanding research scientists and clinicians, and those who have experienced a diagnosis of cancer, the exhibition gives you the opportunity to step into their shoes through their lived experiences. 

Sadly, cancer is a disease that touches all our lives, with one in two of us diagnosed in our lifetime. In Leeds, around 250 people a week given a cancer diagnosis at Leeds Cancer Centre, one of the largest cancer services in the UK, treating thousands of patients every year.

Leeds Cancer Centre is also home to The Leeds Cancer Research Centre (LCRC) which is a partnership between the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, working to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing cancer research today. This partnership has made several significant advances in the fight against cancer, helping to transform the lives of people living with cancer across Yorkshire.

This year alone, Leeds Hospitals Charity has provided just under £1 million pounds of funding a range of initiatives and projects to enhance cancer care and treatment in Leeds. From small items like clothing for patients receiving radiotherapy, to bigger projects like digital innovations for research and the latest diagnostic technology that will mean better and quicker diagnoses for people with cancer.

Dr Lucy Stead is Associate Professor in Brain Cancer Biology at the University of Leeds and is one of the stories included in the exhibition. Lucy’s focus is on glioblastoma which is the most common, most malignant form of adult brain cancer and is currently incurable.

In 2014, Leeds Hospitals Charity approved £40,000 worth of funding to help Lucy with an initial research idea looking at the differences in recurrent tumours in order to identify drugs to stop it resisting treatment. Other scientists heard about her work, and she joined an international consortium, which lead to bigger grants and the discoveries. This led to her being awarded £1.57m funding to continue her ground-breaking research.

“None of this would have happened without Leeds Hospitals Charity funding that preliminary work”, Lucy Explains. “Don’t underestimate the speed technology changes. They didn't put man on the moon until the day they put man on the moon. Research gives the ability to give hope to patients - that there will be a better future. Funding opens doors; it only takes one to open.

Many of those who volunteered to share their stories through the exhibition have been directly impacted by this incredible innovation taking place in Leeds – including patients like Jean.

Jean has been cared for at the Leeds Cancer Centre since she was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2010 and took part in a clinical trial as part of her treatment. Jean now volunteers her time in the Leeds  Hospitals Charity shop and has been dubbed the ‘wing walking granny’ thanks to her many daring charity fundraising challenges.

Jean told us: “My cancer is incurable, but I’m fortunate that there is always a trial or new treatment I can try. It’s vital that research trials are available. Every patient is different, so no treatment is the same. We need these trials, because even if it doesn’t help you now, it will help somebody else in the future.

Esther Wakeman, Chief Executive of Leeds Hospitals Charity said:

“All of us have been affected by cancer at some point in our lives. Our ‘Cancer Stories’ exhibition highlights the exceptional care and ground-breaking research at Leeds Cancer Centre. We hear not only from cancer patients and survivors, but also from the incredible nurses, doctors and researchers here in Leeds.

Donations to Leeds Hospitals Charity are helping us make a real difference to people living with cancer, from early diagnosis, to new treatments and innovative research to help improve outcomes.”

Cancer Stories Exhibition