Justine Davy, head of fundraising for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) charity explains her role.
I am immensely proud to work for the QEHB charity which, even during my time, has raised millions of pounds for incredible causes.
“We aim to provide the ‘added extras’ which the NHS cannot. These could take the form of research and specialised and expensive equipment, to pizza nights for teenagers with cancer, and even Fisher House, a ‘home away from home’ for military patients and their families.
“We support and fund world-class research, and the money we raise pays for cutting-edge technology and equipment which changes lives every day here at the QE.
“As one example, the charity raised £6.5m so the QEHB could become the first hospital in the UK to have both the CyberKnife and TomoTherapy cancer treatment machines.
“The former can treat small well-defined tumours located in traditionally difficult-to-reach parts of the body, which if damaged would have devastating effects. It is commonly used to treat selected brain tumours and increasingly used to treat other tumours around the body.
“The latter allows incredibly accurate scans to be taken of patients to ensure that they are positioned correctly before they receive intensity modulated radiotherapy.
“The TomoTherapy system also reduces the dose of radiation to healthy tissues and critical structures, making radiotherapy treatments more effective and less harmful.
“This is particularly important when we treat children, as children are more sensitive to the effects of radiation than adults, and we don’t want to treat the cancer they have now, only to store up problems further on in life.
“Many people are unaware that the QEHB is one of the country’s leading paediatric radiotherapy centres, with hundreds of children coming from across the region for treatment. It is incredibly awe-inspiring to see the bravery of these children and their families.
“Our charity also funds world-leading research, such as the accelerated drugs programme, which tests existing drugs to see if they could have new applications in cancer treatments that were not previously known.
“Head and neck cancers, in particular, are very tricky to treat due to the invasive nature of surgery required to remove the tumours. That fact that the trials we have funded may help to reduce the size of these tumours is immensely exciting.
“Similarly, we support the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Centre (CIIC), bringing together a team of scientists from the University of Birmingham and doctors from the QEHB to harness the power of the immune system in fighting cancer.
“CIIC is directed by Ben Willcox, Professor of Molecular Immunology at the School of Cancer Sciences. The work our charity does means that amazing scientists such as Professor Willcox can undertake research that would not have otherwise been possible.
“However, we can only carry out our work thanks to all the donors and fundraisers who have helped to raise nearly £4m in the 2016-2017 year alone.
“We offer the chance for people to take part in sporting challenges, such as Velo Birmingham, the region’s first 100-mile closed road bike race, and events such as the Great Birmingham Run and this year, the first Birmingham International Marathon.
“There are countless ways in which you could become involved in supporting QEHB and helping us to carry on this charity’s amazing legacy.
“Please visit our website at qehb.org for information on our campaigns, how to get involved, and how you, or your company, can support the QEHB Charity. If you want to take part in our sporting events, please also visit bikeforbrum.org or runforbrum.org.”