Stephen Fry helps boost Radiotherapy UK campaign by 100,000 signatures in 24 hours

The broadcaster and author recorded a video in support of Radiotherapy UK’s petition to reduce cancer treatment times and waiting lists

Published: 27 February 2024 Campaigns

Actor and comedian Stephen Fry has recorded a video urging people to sign cancer charity Radiotherapy UK’s petition, helping garner more than 100,000 signatures in a single day.

Mr Fry was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018, he explained in a video recorded to ask supporters to help the petition reach half a million signatures.

In the video Mr Fry spoke about his own experience, the need for action, and praised the way King Charles III has approached his own diagnosis with cancer.

The video was shared on Radiotherapy UK's social media channels on 20 February. In the 24 hours after it was posted, the charity's petition was boosted by 100,000 signatures, taking the total number of names to more than half a million. 

'It moves and acts quickly'

He said: “You never know how you’re going to react when you get that kind of news. Very sadly, it’s something one in two of us are going to go through. The King’s recent news shows this so clearly, and I think he’s done a real service to the country in being open and honest about such a personal experience.

“It’s got us all talking and thinking about cancer, and wondering what we can do. Cancer is a verb: it moves and acts quickly. So must we, if we want to save our loved ones. If, like me, you want to help, here’s what you can do: join me, and sign up to the Catch Up With Cancer campaign.

“With all our voices, speaking about the needs of cancer patients, we can push the government to act now.”

4 in 10 cancer patients forced to wait

Following the recording of his video the Catch Up With Cancer petition, which was initially launched in 2020, was signed by 100,000 people in just 24 hours.

The Catch Up With Cancer petition seeks urgent government action, as  four in 10 cancer patients are waiting too long for treatment. Since 2020, at least 225,000 people have not had cancer treatment on time.

Since its launch four years ago by Craig Russell and Mandy Russell, who lost their daughter Kelly Smith at the age of 31, alongside Professor Pat Price, founder of Radiotherapy UK, the #CatchUpWithCancer campaign petition has garnered 575,600 signatures of support.

Ms Smith’s cancer treatment was stopped because of the pandemic, and she died just a few weeks later.

'Pay attention to treatment, not just diagnostics'

Sarah Quinlan MBE, charity director at Radiotherapy UK, said: “Stephen and his team have been wonderfully supportive of what we are trying to do, which is spotlight the many thousands of people waiting too long for cancer treatment, often with deadly consequences. 

“To have such a national treasure speak up for the campaign, and help us get the petition to a major milestone, is a massive boost. We hope even more of the public will get behind the campaign, and that government will sit up and pay attention to treatment, not just diagnostics.”

Earlier this month, the SoR welcomed a new report from the parliamentary radiotherapy group, which set out a framework for ‘world-class’ cancer service in the UK. The Society applauded the focus on radiotherapy’s role in providing care for a range of patients with cancer and the need to develop, fund and deliver a comprehensive 10-year radiotherapy specific workforce plan.

(Image: Stephen Fry, by Sebastian Reuter via GettyImages)