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“The moment you have it yourself you hear it everywhere, but for something so prevalent it’s not talked about at all,” says Patrick Keane. His right arm is plugged into a tube that runs up to a bag of clear liquid in a treatment room at the Royal Free Hospital in north London, one of the UK’s largest cancer treatment centres.

The 56-year-old’s future is dependent on the slow drip of chemicals that attack the cancer cells in his body. If the tumour in his bowel can be reduced by chemotherapy, it can then be more easily surgically removed.

Returning to duties last week after his own diagnosis, the King chose to highlight innovations in cancer research and the thousands who like him are living under the shadow of the disease.

Patrick is one. Indeed, he got his cancer diagnosis in late January, around the same time as the King, and he is taking part in an innovative clinical trial that may help future patients.

Patrick Keane is taking part in an innovative clinical trial that may help future patients
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Patrick Keane is taking part in an innovative clinical trial that may help future patients

In this election year, charities are calling on political parties to produce long-term plans for tackling the disease as part of their manifesto pledges. While innovation is saving lives, there is a looming budget shortfall.

Cancer Research UK, to whom the King became patron last week, estimates there will be a £1bn gap in research funding within the next decade. This is in part due to inflation combined with the cost of living crisis impacting donations to cancer charities.

Add to this that the number of us getting cancer is increasing, projected to go up by a fifth by 2040.

The Royal Free London NHS Trust, which receives the highest number of cancer referrals in London at 50,000 a year, has seen a 10,000 increase in referrals since 2019.

It’s no surprise then that the NHS is missing targets for waiting times between urgent GP referrals and treatment.

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One in two of us will get cancer and, as Patrick knows too well, that word opens up a world of uncertainty. “The word carries so much baggage with it,” he says, and having it can send your mind to “some pretty dark places”.

He talks frankly about the treatment and its side effects, which after his first two rounds, have been minimal. “I didn’t have much of a head of hair to begin with,” he jokes.

Some of his hair has gone in patches, but asked what the hardest thing has been, he doesn’t hesitate: “My father passed away when I was 14. He died of cancer. I have 13-year-old twins so I couldn’t initially shift the thought – is this going to happen again? Passing 48, the age that my father died was a key milestone for me. My children being older than I was when my father passed away was another one.

“Nobody expects their dad to die. It’s a very unreal concept, and I’m not dying – but to try to have that conversation you know – ‘things will be fine.’ It’s very treatable.”

Two weeks after his third round of chemo, scans show the treatment has done its job, Patrick’s surgery can go ahead and is due to happen later this month.

Roopinder Gillmore, lead cancer physician at the Royal Free
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Roopinder Gillmore, lead cancer physician at the Royal Free

More survive cancer as technology advances

Cancer is more treatable now. More of us are surviving it because technology is advancing.

At the Royal Free that ranges from a new cutting-edge £8m PET scanner, which offers a faster more accurate diagnosis, to new drugs offering greater survival chances.

Lead cancer physician at the Royal Free, Roopinder Gillmore, told Sky News: “We are doing surgery quicker, more keyhole robotic surgery in this hospital. We do liver transplants for patients with primary liver cancer, we’re trialling that out in other cancer types which is really exciting.

“We are doing more specialised radiotherapy and for me, my thing is drug treatments, and they are exponentially increasing in terms of what we can offer our patients. The big thing is immunotherapy, we didn’t have that 15 years ago. It has completely changed the outlook for people with lung cancer and skin cancer.”

Backlogs and waiting times have increased

But for all the advances, backlogs and waiting times have built up since the pandemic. The latest NHS figures show 64% of patients received their first treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral. The target is 85%.

That stretch on resources has a knock-on impact on patients like 29-year-old Beaux Harris.

Beaux, an actor and dancer who teaches at The Manor Dance Studio in north London, has what is called a mutated BRCA1 gene, which means her chances of getting cancer dramatically increase in her 30s.

She has a 60% chance of getting ovarian cancer and a 90% chance of getting breast cancer.

So she has decided to get a preventative double mastectomy and a hysterectomy but, due to the backlog, she has a long wait.

Beaux Harris has a mutated gene which means her chances of getting cancer dramatically increase in her 30s
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Beaux Harris has a mutated gene which means her chances of getting cancer dramatically increase in her 30s

‘I feel like I’ve got a ticking time bomb on me’

She says: “I feel like I’ve got a ticking time bomb on me – and it is terrifying. The truth is it doesn’t really feel like a choice when you are presented with a figure like that – it’s like saying would you get on a plane with a 90% chance of it crashing? I know I wouldn’t.”

She has been told that waiting times on the NHS for her preventative treatment is two years at the earliest.

She says people on her online support groups have waited five years. She’s also been told there’s a high chance the operation could be cancelled at the last minute if a high-demand cancer patient needs the slot.

“I could get timed out,” she says. So, she is crowdfunding to get the £50,000 plus she needs to go private.

Beaux Harris

‘I would love to be worrying about things that every other 29-year-old is worrying about’

She might need more funds if she wants some sort of normality at the end of it.

She says: “If I have a hysterectomy now, I can’t have children. So, I’m also trying to raise money to freeze my eggs. Something that is offered on the NHS to cancer patients, but not to BRCA patients.”

She certainly doesn’t want to wait until she gets cancer. Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer due to the difficulty in early detection.

Beaux’s grandmother, her mother, and her aunt all died of cancer because of the BRCA1 mutated gene, she hopes to be the first female in her family in generations to survive having it.

“I would love to be worrying about things that every other 29-year-old is worrying about,” she says. “I’ve got some bloody Olivia awards to win!”

Indeed, Beaux is using her talents putting on performances and doing tap dance sessions to raise money for her treatment.

In some ways it is taken for granted that, because it touches so many of us, most of the money raised for cancer research in this country comes from the British public, but charities say the government needs to play a bigger role in ensuring the UK continues to innovate and improve treatment for what remains the defining health issue of our time.

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Gareth Bale warns greed could harm footballer welfare as matches pile up – and backs calls to scrap VAR

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Gareth Bale warns greed could harm footballer welfare as matches pile up - and backs calls to scrap VAR

Gareth Bale has revealed to Sky News concerns football could become “too greedy”, with players’ mental and physical well-being endangered by growing fixture demands.

The former Wales captain, who won every major honour with Real Madrid, urged football authorities to act so “it doesn’t take something bad to happen for that to change”.

In his first notable interview since retiring in January 2023, Bale reflected on the highs and lows of an illustrious career, assessed the wider state of the game – including what he describes as the need to scrap VAR – and expressed admiration for Jude Bellingham’s immediate impact at Madrid.

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Bale on why he doesn’t like VAR

Bale retired at 33 as a five-time Champions League winner with Madrid – becoming Britain’s most successful male footballing export while still facing difficult times winning over fans in Spain.

The pressures he felt are now only growing as competitions add matches, much to the frustration of global players’ union FIFPRO.

Bale said in an exclusive interview with Sky News: “The intensity and the quickness [are] only getting higher, and it’s very difficult to continue playing at that high level.

“And then when the level comes down, you only get scrutinised.”

He said that while “everybody understands that money … plays a big part” and “more games means more money”, players “want to play the right amount of games where you can cope with it without it being dangerous”.

He added: “It’s a very fine line, but hopefully everybody can come together and come to a right resolution for player welfare.”

Gareth Bale lifting the Champions League trophy for Real Madrid. Pic: PA
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Gareth Bale lifting the Champions League trophy for Real Madrid in 2018. Pic: PA

Some players now could be required for more than 85 matches in a season for club and country with FIFA introducing a new 32-team Club World Cup every four years and UEFA expanding the Champions League.

“The amount of fixtures is becoming more and more and it’ll just become more demanding – and hopefully it doesn’t take something bad to happen for that to change,” Bale said.

“Looking after the players is an important thing. They’re the ones who are growing the game, bringing the fans in to watch them.”

Asked about hopes for football, Bale replied: “It’s just about staying together as one and without certain things getting too greedy.”

‘VAR only made it worse’

One thing he certainly doesn’t miss is video assistant referees delaying celebrations and ruling out goals.

Premier League clubs are set to vote next week on whether to scrap VAR.

VAR, Bale says, was “supposed to take away the controversy in football and it’s only made it worse – I like the human error aspect”.

“Things in slow motion look a lot worse than they do in real time. So, when you slow things down, a handball looks way more of a handball than it does in real action.

“So I don’t like it. I would like to see it gone personally.”

‘Fantastic’ Bellingham

Bale led Tottenham into the Champions League for the first time before an £85m move to Madrid in 2013.

Jude Bellingham has been 'fantastic'. Pic: PA
Image:
Jude Bellingham has been ‘fantastic’. Pic: PA

The 14-time European champions are back in the final on Saturday at Wembley Stadium against Borussia Dortmund – a notable homecoming for Jude Bellingham after a wondrous first season in the Spanish capital.

The 20-year-old English star has already won LaLiga with 19 goals and six assists.

“At such a young age to be doing what he’s doing is fantastic,” Bale said. “It’s great to see, it’s refreshing and it’s important.”

It is especially important to get off to a good start at a club of such history and tradition like Real Madrid, he said.

“The intensity, the pressure that you can feel under…,” said Bale.

“So, he had a great start so far. Obviously, they still have a big game to come and it’ll be great for him to win a Champions League in his first season, that really settles the pressure and, hopefully, he can kick on from there.”

Ups and downs in Madrid

Life in Madrid wasn’t always easy for Bale, with jeers from his own fans despite being so integral on the big occasions with memorable goals like the scissor kick in the 2018 Champions League final win over Liverpool.

Gareth Bale scoring a spectacular overhead kick against Liverpool. Pic PA
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Gareth Bale scoring a spectacular overhead kick against Liverpool. Pic PA

“Of course, there’s always going to be ups and downs,” Bale said. “It’s how you deal with those, how you bounce back, how your character comes out.

“There were obviously some great times, there were obviously some bad. But, I think normally the good outweighs the bad in the end.”

Undoubtedly the biggest moments of pride came with his country – leading Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals and ending their 62-year World Cup exile in 2022.

“If you’d told me when I was a young kid that I would have the career I did, I probably would never have believed you,” Bale said. “I feel like I overachieved”.

“But I think as you get older, your goals change, your body changes, your talent kind of takes over, the hard work kicks in.”

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Now there is more time for golf and family.

“It’s been really nice just to take a step back and have that pressure just relieved a bit,” he said.

“So it’s been good. Obviously I’ve spoken to people when they’ve retired. It’s all about keeping stuff a little bit busy.”

Climate concern

Bale also expressed concern over how football impacts climate change – and stressed the importance of not neglecting the environment while chasing sporting glory.

His message for collective action on sustainability features alongside those of other players, clubs and fans on a Pledge Ball made from recycled boots by Champions League sponsor Mastercard.

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“It’s difficult to make big changes,” Bale said. “It’s always about making those little changes.”

Bale urged the media “to write about the good things, not the bad things”, mentioning Lewis Hamilton as an example of somebody who is “doing a lot of good” and gets “unfair” treatment.

“He made such a massive effort to kind of change his environment and to do right,” Bale said of the F1 driver.

“And then people forget all the hard work he’s done and write maybe about just the small, I guess, negative where he drives an F1 car, which is obviously CO2. So, people need to realise that he’s doing a lot of good and not just that little bit of not bad.

“So, I think for him to make such a big change was massive. But to get the scrutiny I guess he got was very unfair.”

The sense is Bale also prefers life without scrutiny, away from the football spotlight with no desire to become a coach.

“I’m enjoying time, being at home with the family, spending more time with the kids,” he said.

“Enjoying life, to be honest.”

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Bournemouth: CCTV images released of suspect after woman stabbed to death on beach

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Bournemouth: CCTV images released of suspect after woman stabbed to death on beach

Detectives investigating the fatal stabbing of a woman on a beach in Bournemouth have released CCTV images of a suspect.

Dorset Police were called to reports of two women who had been stabbed on Durley Chine Beach at around 11.45pm on Friday.

A 34-year-old woman from nearby Poole was pronounced dead at the scene, while a 38-year-old woman who sustained serious injuries is still in hospital receiving treatment.

A 17-year-old boy from the Lancashire area, who was arrested on suspicion of murder, remains in custody.

Police have issued CCTV images of a suspect who is wearing dark clothing with his hood pulled over his head.

Officers believe there was only one offender involved and the CCTV images are of the suspect at the scene, with inquiries continuing to confirm his identity, the PA news agency reported.

Police officers at the scene on Saturday. Pic: PA
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Police officers at the scene on Saturday. Pic: PA

Detective Superintendent Richard Dixey said: “Since this tragic incident was reported to us, we have been driving the investigation forward, collecting as much information as possible to get answers for the loved ones of the young woman who has tragically lost her life and for the surviving victim. Our thoughts remain with them.

“We are now in a position to issue CCTV images of the suspect. I would urge anyone who was in the area of Durley Chine beach during the night from Friday 24 May to Saturday 25 May 2024 and may have seen the person pictured or anything unusual to please come forward.”

The officer said anyone who was in the area of Durley Roundabout, West Cliff Gardens, Durley Gardens or West Cliff Drive may have “vital clues”.

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Appealing for witnesses, DS Dixey said: “Did you see anyone acting strangely, mainly between 10pm and midnight? Do you have dashcam or CCTV footage that may assist the enquiry?

“Anyone who thinks they recognise the person in the CCTV images should contact police.”

The beach where the stabbing took place is one of Bournemouth’s most popular, according to Visit Dorset, and is located west of the pier.

“We are of course acutely aware of the concerns this incident will have created and indeed continues to create,” said DS Dixey.

“The impact on our communities and the protection of our public remains at the forefront of our minds.

“The enhanced police presence in the area will remain as long as is necessary and if you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to speak to an officer.”

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General Election 2024: Sunak ‘to double down on National Service plan’ as Tories and Labour focus on security

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General Election 2024: Sunak 'to double down on National Service plan' as Tories and Labour focus on security

Rishi Sunak is expected to continue championing his controversial plans to revive National Service by urging employers to prioritise job applicants who have served time in the military.

The prime minister said all 18-year-olds would be made to undertake a form of “mandatory” National Service if the Conservatives are re-elected on 4 July.

Despite growing criticism of the plans – which Tories estimate would cost £2.5bn a year by the end of the decade – the Financial Times reports the prime minister is set to double down.

Mr Sunak said one way to “get the most out of National Service” would be to encourage bosses to “consider those who complete the armed forces placement during job applications”, the paper reports.

Critics from across the political divide have dismissed the plan as unserious, while leading military figures are sceptical over how it would work.

But Mr Sunak will hope his pledge could boost his bid to narrow a yawning gap in the polls between the Tories and Labour as campaigning enters the first full week.

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Is National Service a good idea?

Security will also be the focus of the day for Labour, with Sir Keir Starmer expected to say in a keynote speech “economic security, border security, and national security” will form the “bedrock” of the party manifesto.

“The very foundation of any good government is economic security, border security, and national security,” the Labour leader is expected to say.

“This is the foundation, the bedrock that our manifesto and our first steps will be built upon.”

Read more:
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Acknowledging some voters may be unsure of Labour’s credentials around national security, he is expected to say: “Whatever the polls say, I know there are countless people who haven’t decided how they’ll vote in this election.

“They’re fed up with the failure, chaos and division of the ­Tories but they still have questions about us.

“Has Labour changed enough? Do I trust them with my money, our borders and our security?

“My answer is yes you can – because I have changed this party. Permanently. This has been my driving mission since day one.”

Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to Tapa Military Base in Estonia, where British armed forces are deployed as part of NATO commitments. Pic: PA
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Voters can trust Labour on security matters, Starmer says. Pic: PA

According to The Times, Labour would bring together MI5, police and Whitehall departments to carry out a 100-day review of all the threats that Britain faces, including from Russia and Iran, if it wins the election.

Campaigning for the election is expected to ramp up in the coming week.

Sir Ed Davey will be north of the border launching the Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign with Scottish leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

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