When I underwent treatment for Cancer, I volunteered for a clinical trial that was partly funded by Cancer Research. I currently do voluntary work for this amazing charity.
I am extremely proud of the Cancer Research work being done by students at Southampton University. Each year they discover something new.
Recently the Southampton University students have been able to work with patients’ auto immune systems to help fight cancer cells. This is quite remarkable. I was informed that my immune system was too strong to accept the chemotherapy when I underwent treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma and I had to take all sort of drugs that I was allergic to, in order to suppress my immune system fighting it off. This saved my life, but the treatment was traumatic and left me debilitated.
Imagine how amazing it would have been if my strong immune system was used to fight the disease instead of the treatment?
I was invited to an exhibition in the Civic Centre about Cancer Research, carried out in conjunction with the Charity and Southampton University medical students. It was all hands-on activity which took us through a time line to explain how much, and what, has been achieved.
These are HeLa cells, named after Henrietta Lacks, a black American patient who eventually died of Cervical Cancer on October 4, 1951. The cell line was found to be remarkably durable and prolific — which has led to its contamination of many other cell lines used in research.
The cells from Henrietta’s tumor were taken (without her knowledge or consent) by researcher George Gey, who “discovered that <Henrietta’s> cells did something they’d never seen before: They could be kept alive and grow.” Before this, cells cultured from other cells would only survive for a few days. Scientists spent more time trying to keep the cells alive than performing actual research on the cells.
Henrietta’s cells were the first human cells to be successfully cloned, they were then mass produced and are still being used to fight Cancer today. They have also been used in the successful development of the first vaccine for Polio, for research into AIDS, the effects of radiation and toxic substances, gene mapping and countless other “scientific pursuits”. HeLa cells have been used to test human sensitivity to tape, glue, cosmetics, and many other products. Scientists have grown over 20 tons of her cells, and there are almost 11,000 patents involving HeLa cells.