I recently met Phil Johnson, an old friend and campaigner for smokers’ rights who was, with bitter irony, struck down by throat cancer.
One tends to infer cause and effect, though there are other reasons people get throat cancer: alcohol, the Human Papilloma Virus, and exposure to radiation being notable examples. And some people are just plain unlucky.
Nothing daunted, Phil (who speaks with the aid of an electronic device pressed to his neck) is now campaigning for what he argues is a neglected condition. And I’m hugely impressed that with his own health problems to cope with, he still has the energy and dedication to help others.
Neck and throat cancers get nothing like to air-time (nor the funding) accorded to the big killers — breast, lung and prostate cancer. They are fortunately less common, but the NHS still estimates 16,000 new cases every year, and the numbers are growing as the population ages.
Phil hopes firstly to raise awareness of this disease, and secondly to raise money for “rhino-video-laryngoscopes”, which can produce high resolution colour images of the most obscure parts of the body and throat. By early diagnosis with this specialised kit, the options for treatment are much more promising, and the prognosis better. It could also save the NHS a fortune in time and money, as there is a greater chance of avoiding major surgery.
Phil has set up a local charity, “2020 Voice” Cancer Appeal. His first goal is to raise enough money to provide a Rhino-Video Laryngoscope for the ENT Department at Leicester Royal Infirmary. And after that? He’d like to see the same programme rolled out nationally.
This is a hugely worthy cause (and Phil’s courageous initiative deserves recognition). You can support them, or one of their events, by making a donation in person, or via the secure payments page on their website. All the information, along with more about the disease itself can be found on the Charity’s website: www.2020cancerappeal.org