War Horse author to become patron for head cancer charity



War Horse author Michael Morpurgo has announced he is to become the patron of a charity for head and neck cancer research, days after he revealed he has the disease.

The famed writer of teenage fiction and former children’s laureate is to become the face of the Southwark-based Oracle Cancer Trust, whose offices are in Loman Street.

Now as Oracle’s new patron, he intends to do all that he can to help Oracle in raising awareness and funding for head and neck cancer research. In the UK, head and neck cancer is now the sixth most common cancer with a new person being diagnosed every 35 minutes.

Sir Michael said: “Head and neck cancers are becoming frighteningly common. Sadly, levels of awareness about head and neck cancers are very low and it does not attract the level of support or funding that it should. I hope that by working with Oracle, we can change this.”

The author, 74, was diagnosed last year and underwent radiotherapy at the Royal Marsden hospital.

“My perspective on so much changed,” he said.

“Suddenly the disease became central to my life at home, and to my work. It had to be confronted, dealt with, both surgically and psychologically.

“Now, with excellent prospects for a full recovery, with my voice finding new strength, I have time to look back at the whole experience, at how fortunate I have been.”

Head and neck cancers are now the fastest growing in the UK by number of patients, and are becoming increasingly common in younger patients. Even if treatment is successful, head and neck cancer patients can often suffer difficulties with taste, swallowing and speaking following treatment. These side effects can severely impact patients’ long-term quality of life.

Oracle Cancer Trust chief executive Jamie Newall said: “The impact of head and neck cancer can be devastating. This is why Oracle is determined to fund pioneering research that will make treatments more effective and less invasive for patients.

“However, we need more support to combat this urgent and growing problem. That is why I am delighted Sir Michael has joined Oracle to help bring this issue to the forefront of people’s minds.”

According to 2016 figures, head and neck cancer research receives substantially less funding and awareness than other cancer types.

Head and neck cancer receives 40 per cent less research funding per patient than breast cancer.

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