We're okay, for now. The Cancer Society will continue to support patients through the devasting diagnosis that is "you have cancer".
We'll phone, we'll arrange transport, we'll provide a bed, we'll visit (when lockdown levels allow). We'll talk to media and politicians and advocate for you. And we'll continue to work towards a future with no cancer.
But with Covid disrupting our biggest fundraiser – again – it's that last one I'm getting nervous about.
A future without cancer relies on solid, ongoing, dedicated research. And the Cancer Society is the largest non-Governmental funder of cancer research in New Zealand. Not only that, but we're a research success story – as far as success goes in the global fight to conquer this disease.
In an unassuming lab attached to the Auckland Medical School, over the road from our Domain Lodge accommodation service, world-class cancer research is taking place.
The Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre is a rabbit warren of rooms resembling your school science block, but the results speak for themselves.
A recent evaluation of our research centre found it to be gold-standard – even better, by some measurements, than the renowned Cancer Research Centre in the UK.
It's not just about the outputs – including drugs to market and to clinical trial – or that the researchers collaborate with the best in the business - including Pfizer; it's the centre's ability to work on projects consistently, over a long time, with experienced staff.
The evaluation credits the Cancer Society as the unique reason for this research centre's ability to punch above its weight.
We don't fund all the centre's work, but we do fund the centre consistently, thanks to public donations. This has allowed a core base of research to carry on over many years, lessening the ongoing scramble for grant money most scientists endure.
The Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre isn't the only well-established centre we fund. Since 1996, the Cancer Society Tissue Bank has collected samples from more than 9000 donors to aid clinical trials. More than 60 studies have used the complex data sets from this tissue bank. The samples have been accessed more than 10,000 times for research.
We've also funded and supported New Zealand's contribution to an International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership, with research published showing that New Zealand is falling behind other jurisdictions. This reference data is crucial for us to advocate for better cancer outcomes for New Zealanders.
On top of this, our yearly grant round usually funds more than $1 million to assist researchers studying projects such as the HPV vaccine, and the link between alcohol and cancer.
But we're heading into unknown territory now.
Last year, Covid forced the cancellation of the Daffodil Day street appeal in Auckland. This year, it's a nationwide cancellation. No volunteers, no buckets, no daffodil pins. No cash to count.
We've assured cancer patients that our support services will continue to run. With Covid causing high anxiety, people with cancer need us more than ever. And with the number of people being diagnosed with cancer expected to almost double by 2040, we're going to need more nurses, more drivers, more beds, more ways to care for people during a devasting time in their lives.
It's the research that's likely to suffer. Already, we spent less on national research after last year's disruption to all our major fundraising events. Cancer research takes many forms, from policy advocacy to clinical trials. All of it gives us hope.
Since we can't ask you in person on the street this Friday, I'm asking you now to please help the Cancer Society keep up all its work. If you're able, you can donate at daffodilday.org.nz.
Current and future generations will thank you for it.
• Andrew Young is CEO of Cancer Society Auckland Northland.