Cancer patients meet King Charles as innovative treatments put in the spotlight

Cancer patients meet King Charles as innovative treatments put in the spotlight

Eileen Rapley, a retired art teacher, returned to the hospital that saved her life on Tuesday to meet a fellow cancer patient – the King. 

After being diagnosed with lung cancer, Eileen signed up to a pioneering programme at University College London Hospital (UCLH) called Tracer X.

One of the aims of Tracer X is to map the differences between individual cancer cells within tumours, tracking lung cancer evolution in unprecedented ways – helping to inform the treatment that ultimately cleared Eileen of the disease.

She is now enjoying her retirement cancer-free. These are the kinds of innovations that the King is keen to highlight as he emerges back into public life after his own diagnosis.

Eileen is now enjoying her retirement cancer-free

Eileen has had many treatments and while meeting the King he leaned in and told her he knew some of what she’d been through “in intimate detail”.

Eileen’s parents both died of cancer and she applauds the King for revealing his own condition and getting people talking about it.

She told Sky News: “This is what I think is so important about today. We didn’t talk about it with either of my parents. We never talked about it at all. And when I got cancer, there were some people who couldn’t deal with that, couldn’t talk about it.”

It’s a conversation about an illness half of us will get, but when high-profile people get cancer, it increases its profile and can help save lives.

People reflect on their own health and get their symptoms checked out. Early diagnosis means more chance of successful treatment.

After His Majesty’s announcement, Cancer Research UK saw a 33% increase in traffic on its information pages. There was also a 15% increase the day after Princess Catherine revealed that she had cancerous cells removed during an operation.

The King was also keen to highlight that more of us are surviving and living with cancer and that life can go on after a diagnosis. During his visit to UCLH, behind every handshake, there was a story.

King Charles meets cancer patients

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King feeling ‘much better’

Read more on Sky News:
Former footballer reveals he has cancer
The ‘unconventional’ love story of Charles and Camilla

New injection could ‘change millions of lives’

Patient Steve Young also met the King. A professional musician, he didn’t want to stop work when he was diagnosed with skin cancer.

He told Sky News: “I’m a total workaholic. The weekend after I had the first operation, it was a bank holiday and I had seven gigs. I did all of them.”

This was despite having a massive painful scar down the top of his head. He said when he first got diagnosed, he couldn’t even say the word cancer.

He is in the clear now having had the malignant melanoma cut out of his head. He is also the first person to trial a new injection which is individually tailored to someone’s DNA to stop cancer cells re-emerging.

Steve Young
Steve is also in the clear

Mr Young said: “I’m getting a really good chance of not having a reoccurrence. If it’s successful, it’s going to change millions of lives and completely change the fight against cancer.”

He added: “This isn’t just about the King, because the NHS work tirelessly – and once I had my diagnosis, I was sucked into an NHS Tornado and I haven’t been let back down yet.”

But experts say while science is saving lives, funds for cancer research have fallen since the pandemic, and Cancer Research UK who now have the King as their Patron, says the government needs to invest.

Michelle Mitchell, CEO of Cancer Research UK told Sky News: “In cancer research funding, it is the great British public who support us at incredible levels, but what we want with government is a partnership about cancer research, so the UK remains one of the best places in the world for cancer research and UK patients can benefit from cutting edge world-class clinical trials.”

The King hopes he can use his profile to raise awareness of innovative treatments and encourage others to seek early diagnosis if they have symptoms.