February 2013
The Mark Cross Bone Cancer FundMark-Cross-Fund-cheque

In May 2012 the UCLH Charity Mark Cross Bone Cancer Fund held a Presentation Ball at the Hilton Hotel, Dartford, Kent, to celebrate reaching their target of £100,000. This money is being used to support research by Dr Whelan’s team at UCH.

The fund was set up after one of Dr Whelan’s patients, Mark Cross, died from bone cancer at the age of 42 after battling the disease for over 18 months. Mark endured several operations, including amputation of his left leg above the knee, and many gruelling sessions of chemotherapy.

Bone cancer is a rare cancer, typically affecting children and teenagers. Despite some medical advances prognosis remains poor for many sufferers. Its rarity ensures that little funding is earmarked for research specifically into this disease and the search for more effective, less harsh treatments.

The charity was started almost by accident by Mark’s wife Jill and his family. Money had been donated in lieu of flowers at his funeral and both he and Jill wanted this to be used to fund research exclusively into bone cancer. After discussions with Philip Boyes from UCLH Charity Jill discovered there was no charity at UCH devoted solely to bone cancer. Mr Boyes suggested that they start their own! The torch had been lit as plans to raise £20,000 were made.

It was important to Jill that Dr Whelan, who had been responsible for Mark’s care, would have complete control on how the money was spent: “I have complete faith and trust in Dr Whelan , a leading expert in sarcomas and bone cancer, that he would use the money appropriately to support his work at UCH”.

All too soon the target of £20,000 was exceeded, yet fundraising continued with fun runs, marathons, quiz nights, raffles, discos, bookstalls and tombolas at festivals and country fairs. When funds reached over £50,000 Jill began to dream of raising £100,000 in Mark’s memory to help fund vital research.

This was achieved early in 2012 and Dr Whelan attended the Presentation Ball a few months later together with his wife and some colleagues from UCH. It was a very proud moment for the family when Mark’s sons Andrew and Tom, pictured here with Dr Whelan, handed over the cheque. Dr Whelan gave an impressive and thought-provoking speech thanking all the supporters and provided insight into the disease and how the money is being used, stressing how vital this research is.

The fundraising can never stop. We want and need to support the work done at UCH to improve the treatments and prognosis of patients with bone cancer. The charity has a fundraising page on just giving http://www.justgiving.com/markcrossbonecancerfund