New Year, new opportunities

It was eerily quiet on the evening of 31st December 2020 – yet, the fireworks display went on in London, Jools Holland performed on television, and there have been endless posts about ‘dry January’ - so I definitely know we’ve entered into a new year. But it doesn’t have the same glimmering and shiny feel of a new year. In fact, it feels a bit like Groundhog Day. 2020 came, and thankfully went, and yet still I continue to stare back at myself on zoom, still continue to commute via my staircase and, yet again, still continue to home-school my children – or rather, their teachers do – thank goodness for their teachers.

I think many people, like me, expected to feel differently when 2021 eventually arrived after what has felt like a very long year – and so to be faced with the prospect of another very long year has been tough. I remind myself daily that however tough I may find it, for the families we support at Solving Kids Cancer’, who are often facing the most unimaginable difficulties, the pandemic is yet another hurdle to jump in the face of the many hurdles they’ve already had to overcome. So we must persist – with our support, with our fundraising efforts, with our research – as we are needed now more than ever before.

So I’ve started the New Year, with a firm focus on our fundraising strategy. Solving Kids’ Cancer has always been a parent charity – it evolved for the purpose of supporting families who wished to raise funds to access treatment for their children with neuroblastoma where the treatment wasn’t available in the UK. This was back in 2006. Today, nearly 15 years later, we continue to be a parent charity. We have parents with personal experience of caring for a child with neuroblastoma both in our staff team and on our board. We are parent advocates and walk alongside families who are facing the most difficult experience of their lives. The voices of parents and their children inform everything that we do. And we continue to support families with their fundraising campaigns where they are choosing to access treatment through clinical trials abroad.

Not one of the families we support would ever actively choose to travel abroad for treatment for their child in preference of being treated closer to home. This is why over recent years, our mission has broadened to include investment in clinical research here in the UK – clinical research is different to lab-based research, which focusses on understanding the origins of disease – this in itself is vitally important and thankfully there are other charities and institutions who dedicate themselves to this type of research. The gap that Solving Kids’ Cancer seeks to fill is the funding of clinical research that develops and tests new and novel treatments with the hope of quickly bringing them to the forefront of frontline treatment. Through the absolute determination of our research team, scientific advisory board, parent community and funding partners, and in partnership with the dedicated clinical research community, we are making significant scientific advances together.

It is our most ardent wish that one day, the element of our service which provides support to families accessing treatment abroad, will no longer be needed. This is why our wholehearted fundraising focus for 2021 and beyond, will be on generating the funds required to invest in clinical research which results in ever more treatment options being available in the UK.

So I started this blog talking about Groundhog Day, and about how it might feel to many, like a long road ahead. I’m choosing to view the year with optimism. A whole long year in front of us, during which we can reach out to people in different ways, and give inspiring examples of what a difference clinical research can make to the lives of children facing neuroblastoma. 2021 could be a year for a new opportunity, new supporters, new treatments and more life-chances for children. What a Happy New Year it could be.