Visiting the future is one of the three things people are supposed never to be able to do.
But the late David Doran, brother of Smarter Surfaces’ CEO Denise Doran, has already proven that old adage wrong in a moving way.
David passed away in January of this year (2017) after a 16-year battle with astrocytoma, a brain tumour which spreads in tentacles throughout the brain and thus is particularly difficult to treat. But in the final months of his life, as he told the Irish National Broadcaster RTE in a moving interview in October, 2015, he wrote a letter to his nine-year-old daughter, Amy, his only child with his wife, Anne.
The trick is that Amy doesn’t know about this letter, yet. It will instead be read out to her and her guests many years from now as the Father-of-the-Bride speech on her wedding day. It will be a wonderful, uniquely cherished, voice from Amy’s past, spoken in the future about a cruel disease that is, alas, nowhere near being defeated in the present.
A UK-based charity, The Brain Tumour Charity, is at the forefront globally of attempts to change this situation, but it’s a huge challenge.
“Over the past 40 years, survival rates for most cancers have almost doubled, but with brain cancers there has been little, if any, improvement. Basically, the treatment available today is much the same as it was in the 1970s.”
They describe the devastating effects of this lack of progress – particularly where children and young adults are concerned – in stark terms:
“In the UK, one child dies every three days from a brain tumour. There are over 500 cases each year of under-diagnosis of those aged 19 or under, and brain tumours are the biggest killers by cancers of all those under the age of 40.”
Of those who survive, they add, “over 62% will have life-altering conditions forever [i.e for the remainder of their lives].”
But The Brain Tumour Charity is making a big difference. To date it has invested over £18 million in research, and through its programmes, such as its Head Start campaign encouraging early diagnosis, where it has reduced diagnosis times from 14.4 weeks to 6.5 weeks for children in the UK, and its’ Support and Information Service for patients and their families, with to date over 20,000 people benefitting.
It couldn’t come sooner. In his radio interview, David Doran described what the effects of the disease meant in his case, once he reached the third grade of the disease, the most serious phase: “you don’t become unemployable necessarily,” he said, (David continued to work in his own successful HR recruitment business until weeks before his death) – “but you do become dysfunctional, with seizures sometimes several times a week, constant headaches, and sleeplessness from the stress and worrying about the future.” David wrote a book about living with a brain tumour which you can read more about here.
For understandable reasons, Denise Doran wanted particularly to help The Brain Tumour Charity as part of SmarterSurfaces’ commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), a key pillar of the firm’s ethos, as its website makes clear:
“Smarter Surfaces believes in the importance of acting as a responsible global corporate citizen… [We] have a strong affinity for organisations that are committed to a world where bright ideas, courage and commitment are rewarded,” and The Brain Tumour Charity is certainly one of these. The firm donated its Smart Whiteboard Paint, sufficient to cover 18 sq.m (plus white primer i.e. undercoat) plus a Pro User kit of cleaner, markers etc to The Brain Tumour Charity earlier this year, and Katie Mosses describes the difference the products have made:
“We use it as a visual tool, relaying to visitors what we are doing. It’s much easier to have a whole wall [to work with], and our team works very well with it. It makes the office a much warmer place, helps to show how different things are making a difference, and that helps to motivate staff.”
As its figures for the improvement reduced diagnosis times demonstrate, the Brain Tumour Charity is already changing the future for sufferers from this heart-breaking disease. There are many such difference-making organizations out there; if you know of one, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Smarter Surfaces and make its pitch to be our “Charity of the Month.”
To read more examples of Smarter Surfaces CSR case studies click here.