Researcher Professor Alan Parker’s Christmas Story

I’m Professor Alan Parker, and I’m a researcher at Cancer Research Wales. Like many, I have a Christmas cancer story to tell, having lost my mum to cancer, when she was 50, and I was just 17 years old.

Most of my memories of Christmas as a child are exactly as you would expect – excitement, presents and food! We would always spend Christmas morning at home opening presents, then go to my grandparent’s house near Warrington for Christmas dinner and to spend the rest of the day with the extended family.

Of course, it was all about overindulgence and thinking back I have no idea how we managed to consume so much food! The whole family would squeeze round the table in my grandparents dining room – in my mind I can clearly see us all sitting around the table wearing the paper Christmas hats from crackers and all with huge plate filled with Turkey dinner. Laughing and joking and spending quality family time together. Happy times.

Christmas is a particularly difficult time of year, as I can’t help but think how sad it is that my mother never got to meet her grandchildren and enjoy these special moments. However, it’s important to look at the positives, which, for me, is creating new memories from watching my own kids enjoy the magical time of Christmas, like the ones I shared with mum.

The breast cancer diagnosis was given to my mother when she was 40 years old. Instead of focusing on the years cancer took from her, I cherish the ten years cancer research gave to her. Thanks to the advancement in health systems, medicines, and treatments, we were able to share ten more Christmases together.

There is no doubt that this significant life event shaped my choice of career, as I strive to create a better future for cancer patients like Mum.

Cancer Research Wales funds some of the most cutting-edge cancer research, and best of all it is taking place here in Wales. The support of the people of Wales, has been integral to helping me develop technologies that have a real prospect of making a difference to patients in the next few years.

It’s never easy to share my Christmas Story, but I hope my personal tale gives strength to the thousands of people living with cancer and their families.