Cherry Ann, a volunteer with the Care Plus Group Health and Wellbeing Collaborative, provides an account of a recent educational trip for volunteers to Leeds University. The trip was facilitated by Cancer Research UK.
Cherry Ann describes the day in her own words:
“The day started with a huge downpour in Grimsby. By the time we reached Leeds it was dry and cool. We were greeted warmly by Andy – the Communications Manager – and taken to the 8th floor of the Worsley Building. There waiting for us was Professor Nicola Stonehouse, a Virologist, who proceeded to give us a short talk on the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which causes most cases of Cervical Cancer. Globally, a quarter of a million women die from Cervical Cancer. She gave us a brief overview of Viruses and then spoke about the HPV Vaccine which is given to girls, in the UK, aged 12 to 13 years. This vaccine plus PAP smears every 3 years for women aged between 25 and 49 and every 5 years for women aged between 50 and 64 years has resulted in a 60% drop in UK cases up to 2005. However, new treatments need to be found: at the moment they are looking at Actimors which target proteins in a specific way, with no side affects and which may be given topically (locally) and directly onto the Cervix.
This was a fascinating talk and we thanked the Professor for her time.
Next, we were introduced to Professor Richard Bayliss who is: the Professor of Molecular Medicine at Leeds University, Head of the Leeds Cancer Research UK and also Group Co-ordinator of Cancer Research UK. His department is there to specifically develop precision drugs to treat Cancers and to work alongside other scientists globally. He gave us a brief explanation about DNA, how Cancer is caused and how his work involves DNA analysis. He has a team of 7 PhD scientists plus a PhD student assisting his research. Professor Bayliss invited us to separate into three groups and to take part in three laboratory exercises. Our first exercise was to view, via an electron microscope, HeLa (Henrietta Lacks) Cells of Cancer of Cervix. We were also given an explanation. We were then helped to build a molecular chain of the cancer treating drug Crizotinib. Finally, we were shown how to use a pipette to draw up DNA for analysis and Electrophoresis.
Such a lot of effort was taken by the university staff to give us such a memorable time. The staff members were all so enthusiastic and I feel that our future is safe in their hands.
We left the university feeling well informed and mentally stimulated. We arrived back in Grimsby to sunshine and warmth - a good end to a wonderful day.”
Cherry Ann is a volunteer for the Lung Collaborative team – raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer amongst the general public, encouraging them to go and seek help from their GP at an early stage. Having spent a large part of her life teaching Health Education and Promotion; volunteering with the Cancer Collaborative helps Cherry Ann continue with this in a small way.
Interested in volunteering?
We are always seeking new volunteers – no medical knowledge is required and free training is provided – come and join a happy group of volunteers, who enjoy what they do – commitment is one meeting per month if you can make it, and opportunities to do one or more events per month. As much or as little as you can. Any time is appreciated.
For further information please contact Julie Grimmer on 01472 232261.
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