Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Britain is no longer a country for Pete Postlethwaite but is one for Maggie Watts fighting for research into the cancer which killed him and in need of 73,000 signatures

Our great British actor, Pete Postlethwaite, was struck down with pancreatic cancer and died before his time at the age of 64 in 2011.

What was said about that wonderful face :

* 'His rugged features made him every casting director's go-to guy for raw, lived-in truth.'

* 'The stark planes and bulges of his face created a veritable Easter Island statue of authenticity and plainness.'

* 'For around a quarter of a century he played the same approximate middle age, with the face of a man whose life had been hard-earned, and whose dues had been paid in full long before.'

* 'He had a face that elicited many similes, among them 'a stone archway' and 'a bag of spanners'.''

Steven Spielberg once said : "he was the best actor in the world" after working with the actor on the 'The Lost World: Jurassic Park', to which Pete quipped: "I'm sure what Spielberg actually said was : "'The thing about Pete is that he thinks he's the best actor in the world.'"

He was best known as a screen actor in the 1993 film, 'In the Name of the Father' the true-life drama about the wrongful arrest, trial and imprisonment of the 'Guildford Four' as IRA bombers. He played Guiseppe Conlon, father of Gerry Conlon and the innocent, law-abiding blue-collar worker in 1970's Catholic West Belfast who subsequently died in prison :
The role earned him an Oscar nomination for 'Best Supporting Actor'.

John Prescott, former Labour Deputy Prime Minister said the greatest acclaim for an actor was to be so good that it made people get out and do something. "Pete Postlethwaite made me do the latter – twice. He was a fine actor, a devoted campaigner and a good man. Pete will be missed but his art changed the lives of many for the better. I can't think of a better compliment than that."

Julie Walters, actress : "He invented 'edgy'. He was an exhilarating person and actor."

Jim Sheridan, Film Director : "Everybody loved him. He was an amazing character and a lovely man. He was a great warrior. He looked indestructible, that was the thing about him."

Bill Nighy,actor called him "a rare and remarkable man. I was honoured by his friendship – he is irreplaceable".

Film Clips :

Danny's Speech from 'Brassed Off' in 1996 :

Pancreatic cancer, which was responsible for Pete's death, remains the cinderella of cancers in comparison with bowel, breast and prostate. More funding and more public awareness is vital so that progress can be made in earlier detection and, ultimately, better survival rates. It is often called the 'silent killer' since many of its symptoms mirror other less critical illnesses and doctors may not recognise these early enough, resulting in lost time before diagnosis and a terminal outcome. It kills 7,900, mostly old men and women in Britain each year with 75% of cases in those aged 65 years and over.

Last year, Maggie Watts, who lost her husband to pancreatic cancer at the age of just 48 in 2009, launched a UK Government E-petition to push it further up the political agenda. The petition is a call to :

'Provide more Funding & Awareness for Pancreatic Cancer to aid long overdue progress in earlier detection and, ultimately, improved survival rates'

Maggie and her supporters need 100,000 signatures by the 8th April this year in order for these issues about pancreatic cancer to be taken up in Parliament and with 3 months to go they are still 73,000 signatures short.

Unlike Pete, Kevin Watts was in his late 40's when he was struck down. He :

* as a builder, had always been fit and healthy but in 2008, after eight months of apparently unconnected symptoms : queasy stomach, severe back pain and dramatic weight loss, with his doctor thinking he had a stomach ulcer, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

* was told that the tumour was inoperable because it was wrapped around a main artery in his pancreas, the organ responsible for making hormones such as insulin, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable, and producing digestive enzymes to break down food.

* after undergoing chemotherapy was told it had failed to shrink the tumour away from the artery and that he had 6 to 18 months to live and died in December 2009 in a hospice.

It is really very simple.
Lack of funding = lack of research.
Lack of research = lack of understanding of the condition.
Lack of understanding of the condition = late diagnosis.
Late diagnosis = a poor rate of survival.

It is important not to lose sight of the fact that poor diagnosis and resulting poor rates of survival affects the family, friends and colleagues of the departed. Maggie's loss and tribute to Kevin is a reminder of that :

 ' For my gorgeous husband Kevin: You stared pancreatic cancer firmly in the face and absolutely refused to succumb until it had drained every last ounce of your strength. We are proud of you. Your fight was truly inspirational and I will never cease to be amazed at how you handled the knowledge that pancreatic cancer would, in a relatively short space of time, take your life. You refused to give in and have left us with many, many good memories, particularly your "I'm Still Standing Party" held with all of our family and friends to celebrate outliving the 18 month prognosis! Sadly, the cancer took a firm hold not long after and we had to face the hardest part - letting you go. We did so in the knowledge that you would be at peace and watching over us. Life ends but love is eternal and we carry you with us, in our hearts, wherever we go. Love you and miss you every day. With love always Maggie xxx'

Maggie speaking to ITN : http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/update/2014-01-21/pancreatic-cancer-campaign/

So in memory of Pete, please sign Maggie's petition and spread it to family, friends and colleagues through facebook, twitter and other social media to help Maggie get her 100,000 signatures by April :

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