“There is always hope”, a Banksy

Hand stretched towards the sun

    Written by Avril Chester, Founder & CEO of Cancer Central and Winner of the 2019 Digital Leader 100 Awards in the category HealthTech

    Like any new budding entrepreneur my first day was full of hope, ideas and trepidation. Fast forward 18 months and I surprisingly feel the same.

    This is my first venture into the mythical world of entrepreneurs and magical tales of start-ups. People warn you about the emotional roller coaster but what I hadn’t quite realised was that they were referring to the varying and opposing emotions all happening in the same day. In fact, several times over, up, down, up, down, up, down… intensified because you have invested everything in your project. These highs and lows are undeniably more extreme than usual. OK add in my drug Tamoxifen (a hormone treatment post breast cancer), admittedly some days are a bit of a winning formula.

    What has kept me going?

    1. The unwavering belief in my idea
    2. All of you

    Together these are a powerful combination and every day I wake up believing; ‘There is always hope’.

    H = History

    For those who I am yet to meet, let me share a little bit of our short history.

    1. What is my idea? Launched in October 2018, Cancer Central is a new and growing digital platform providing a central source of information for those affected by cancer and those who care for them. Whatever your questions or needs, we aim to signpost businesses, services and charities – locally, nationally and online – who can offer the advice and support you need. We are at the start of this journey and, over time, will become the go-to place to find cancer support, with your help. www.cancercentral.org.uk
    2. All of you? So many of us have been cruelly affected by cancer. I wanted to find a way to enable others to be a part of the organisation and build, to give everyone a chance to help and support others. The response and impact continually takes my breath away, so far we have received over 25,000 hours from 200+ individuals and 30+ organisations, with major contributions from TechFINIUM, ROQ and IBM. We are calling this way of working cominovation (community + innovation).

    O = Occasions

    Do we take time to celebrate successes? I know I am the first to dish out this advice yet super useless at doing it myself. It is so easy to see what we are yet to accomplish that we can easily miss the amazing occasions experienced.

    What is our current occasion? We won Digital Leaders HealthTech Innovation of the year. An unbelievable achievement which is beyond my wildest dreams. Winning is a thank you to everyone involved who is building Cancer Central and a nod of encouragement that we are going in the right direction. We can and will in time help thousands if not millions of people. Massive thanks to everyone who voted for us and to the judges for believing!

    P = Positive

    Staying positive during the lows is a skill and a blog topic on its own. I am currently facing an interesting situation.

    The platform itself is progressing beautifully, thanks to yours, TechFINIUM, ROQ & IBM’s help. We have some very exciting features on the horizon and several cominovation days to be announced.

    Cancer Central and your digital assistant Ave will grow in capabilities and intelligence. YET, for our work to make the difference and positive impact to people’s lives, we need businesses, charities and communities (local, regional and national) who support those affected by cancer to register on our site, so that we can signpost people to them in time of need.

    We need all local knowledge and help to encourage registrations on Cancer Central.

    Business & charity registrations includes but is not limited to, benefits advice, insurance products, counselling, complementary therapy, respite care, hats, wigs, lingerie, skincare, financial help, nutrition advice, local societies or communities, meals on wheels, books, blogs, forums, local hospital taxi services.

    E = Everyone

    You guessed it; this is me, looking at you for advice and guidance.

    How would you increase registrations on the site? Cancer Central is yet to receive funding, this means there is no paid resource power, no paid adverts or marketing. Any ideas in how we can solve this challenge?

    ‘There is always hope’.

    I have hope that you will think of and share brilliant ideas in how to solve the above challenge.

    I have hope that you will help find and encourage registrations.

    I have hope that we will build this centralised resource together and help everyone affected by cancer.

    Just like the hope I had 18 months ago when I first started out.

    Look forward to hearing from you and thank you.


    P.s. registration link

    Avril Chester holding Digital leaders 100 Award at event

    Melanie Rose and Avril Chester holding the Digital Leaders HealthTech Innovation of the year Award at the 2019 Awards Dinner.

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