Ally Clarke was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer ten years ago at age 60. He says he's still around thanks to clinical trials, but now Covid-19 has put lots of research at risk, including Ally's treatment.
Last week we announced that prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK. This huge milestone passes at a time when our research is at risk because of social-distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on every aspect of life. For many, this impact will be temporary. But for the increasing amount of men living with or after prostate cancer in the UK, this crisis could have a devastating long-term consequence.
Research is crucial to finding new ways to treat and diagnose prostate cancer, so that some day no fathers, sons, brothers and friends will be lost to the disease. But for the last few months and weeks, prostate cancer labs across the UK have been forced to close due to the physical distancing measures required to contain the virus. Research came to a halt. Without urgent funds, there’s a real risk that much of this ground-breaking work may never re-start.
Ally Clarke is one of over 400,000 men in the UK who rely on research to give them more time with their loved ones. Men who've never needed your support more. We spoke to Ally to understand what it's like to deal with the uncertainty.
"When I was diagnosed I thought that was it for me, I was ‘doomed’. But thanks to research into new treatments and sheer determination, I’m still giving it a run for its money."
"I’ve had a range of treatments over the last ten years and up until recently, I was on Professor Johann de Bono’s trial. It felt special to be involved in a clinical trial with such a high-profile prostate cancer researcher, trying an experimental new treatment which could give me extra time after I’d become resistant to standard treatments. I certainly knew I was in good hands. The treatment worked for me for nearly a year, which was much longer than they or I was expecting.”
“Just before Covid-19 hit the UK and the world in a big way, I was due to start participating in a new clinical trial to start another new treatments to keep controlling my prostate cancer. I was gutted to find out that it had to be put on hold. Now all my treatment has completely stopped.”
“Prostate cancer is a bit like Covid-19 – I don’t think there’s a person in the UK that it hasn’t touched.”
“Every time I open the newspaper, I read articles about cancer patients dying because of Covid-19. And there will be lots of people like me that haven’t been able to get their treatments via clinical trials. I can’t help but worry about what the prostate cancer is doing to me now that I can’t get treated. Is it getting worse?"
"Prostate cancer isn’t saying, ‘well, Covid-19’s here, I’m going to take a break’. But unfortunately, clinical trials, and my hope for future treatments, has.”
“I’m sure at some point in the near future, we will defeat Covid-19. And eventually there will be light at the end of the tunnel for prostate cancer too, but only if we continue funding research and clinical trials.”
“Clinical trials are absolutely crucial for men like me. Without them, we’d have no way of knowing what works to help tame and treat this disease. I owe my life to research. It’s extended my life beyond what we ever thought was possible.”
“If I had to give one message, I’d say ‘we need donations now more than ever before to get things going again, so we can carry on with the research and try and get ahead of this disease for men and their families’.”