Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Henley Rotary Club

THE work of a small Oxfordshire charity working for a future free of breast cancer was described

THE work of a small Oxfordshire charity working for a future free of breast cancer was described to members at their lunch meeting at the Red Lion Hotel last week.

Kelly Gibson, corporate fund-raising manager, explained how Against Breast Cancer started 30 years ago from humble beginnings when Dr Anthony Leathem, a pathologist at the Middlesex (later University College) Hospital, was upset at the number of post mortems he carried out on young women with the disease.

He was determined to carry out research into breast cancer survival but there was no budget for it at the hospital.

His wife Patricia was a breast cancer theatre nurse at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital and they both raised money by street collections, contacting organisations, selling sweet peas and ginger cakes.

Eventually they were able to launch the charity in 1993, six years after The Lancet had published results of Anthony’s research, which identified a chemical difference between aggressive and non-aggressive breast cancer cells.

The charity, based in Abingdon, not far from the couple’s Long Wittenham home, has three full-time staff and several volunteers.

It has funded research into the onset of breast cancer (one in eight women is expected to get it, while one in five of those who have it suffers a secondary spread) and its aim is to increase survival after diagnosis. Research is being carried out into diet and lifestyle and the charity hopes to provide an easy-to-use home blood or urine test for people to monitor themselves.

Sam Lamden proposed the vote of thanks to both Kelly and Kimberly Kelly, the charity’s corporate support official, who was also present.

Earlier, Peter Thomson gave a brief report about the visit which 11 members had made to the Culham Science Centre the previous week.

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