I’m allergic to suffering, any form of suffering. When I heard that VP’s Vision was to reduce suffering for those journeying through cancer, to be a force of cancer prevention and to promote well-being and quality of life, I wanted to learn much more… I learnt that cancer is the top cause for premature death in the UK (42%) with incidents on the rise (1 in 2). I learnt that the UK has the worst cancer survival rates in Western Europe. I first spoke as VP’s General Manager at our Third Annual Ball. I shared that I recognise the size of the privilege and responsibility – the task of taking your hard work, love and energy, and directing that into tangible positive impact. Before I dive into my specific plans for 2017 (which I will do in a New Year blog), I wanted to be transparent with you, about my motivations, why I’m here and what journey I am hoping to take VP on.

I started my career at IBM. My previous role was as a European Commercial Director, which I started 2.5 years ago. During this time I met Alex Eastman, a passionate guy who had been through significant pain. Losing a father, then a sister, within such a short period of time, so tragically. Turning deep sadness into something so much bigger than them, his family started this organisation from complete scratch, promoting hope.

 

Alongside getting to know Alex, his family, VP and the cancer space more holistically, I’ll share two personal moments that influenced my decision:

One moment was in my previous role, where I worked hard to grow the revenue from £100k to over £3m in 18 months. I fulfilled a promise, but I didn’t feel fulfilled. I compared that with the thought of signing a £1m corporate partnership for Victoria’s Promise. I’d be ecstatic! I would be fulfilled and celebrating for weeks.The other moment was when I remembered something my mother said to me. My mother and auntie were inseparable sisters. Best of friends who shared everything, even their wedding day! My auntie died of cancer when she was a young woman. My mum knew intimately just how tough the cancer journey can be. Towards the end of my mum’s life, when her body was wasting away, leaving her paralysed and barely able to communicate with the ones she loved, she said to me, through broken words: “I’m glad I have what I have, and not cancer.” Thinking back to that, was the moment I knew cancer, for me, was the most important disease that needed our attention right now.

 

The more I learnt about why Victoria’s Promise exists and how it already effects so many, the more I was blown away. By the story, the vision, the promise, and the cause. I truly believe in reversing the 1 in 2. I believe in our trustees, I believe in Sophie, Laura and Lisa and all of our carers, all of our volunteers, all of our community. I believe in the effect they all have on young women with cancer today. I love hearing news when the ladies we support get the all clear after their final treatment. I believe in effecting that kind of change and celebrating it. I believe there is a serious gap in cancer care in our country. With no consistent information on how to prevent cancer in the first place.

To be a part of a special group of people and community who also believe in this, and who have already started on this journey. To lead that?! That’s why I’m here. So what are my plans? The first thing I’ve done is agree a Vision and Mission statement, which I am very excited to share with you (below). Everything we will do flows from that Mission. I want to support a powerful group of individuals that impact significant change in the journey to reduce cancer occurrences and increase quality of life of cancer patients. With a reason and vehicle to help our community where it matters most. With a reason to be joyful through the impact we make.

Through access to specialist services, counselling, childcare, cleaning services and powerful network meetings, we will empower our young women to get the best possible results from their cancer treatments. Services that are scientifically proven to make a difference to quality of life and chances of survival.

We will continue to constantly innovate and improve our services. To increase our reach.

I promise to grow this charity without ever losing the personal touch and impact that has made it so valuable for those receiving the care.

So I want to say a huge thank you to those who continue to volunteer their valuable time and skills, to the generosity of our community and to the bravery of those who are journeying through cancer; you remind us all what’s important.

Thank you to Victoria van der Westhuizen, for your courage and character that inspired a movement that will impact so many.

 And finally, thank you to the trustees for committing their lives to fulfilling a promise and trusting me with it.

I feel privileged to be here and I look forward to walking this journey with you.

Dino Rakitzis
General Manager
“No young woman is going to journey through cancer alone. Not on our watch.”

 

VP VISION
A time when leading personalised cancer care is available to all.
Where preventable cancers are prevented, survivable cancers survived, and individuals empowered and supported to attain the best quality of life.

VP MISSION
Our mission, starting with young women, is to make certain that every individual or family going through cancer is provided with critical support, medicines and technologies; services that increase the chance of survival and improve the quality of life.We are dedicated to being a progressive force for cancer prevention, by making proven information, guidance and services accessible to all; drastically reducing the number of cancer occurrences and re-occurrences.We believe in preventing cancer and promoting life, inspired and fuelled by the promise of Victoria Van Der Westhuizen.