ToC History

Image of Kim Ronaldson.

From September 2019 until his unexpected death in April 2021, Kim Ronaldson chaired Topic of Cancer with energy and enthusiasm and was always positive despite his medical problems.  He was responsible for many innovative ideas to help the charity thrive and it benefitted immensely from his chairmanship.

Topic of Cancer originated in 2009 when Nigel Lewis-Baker approached a long-term friend and cancer patient, John Blackburn, with the idea of starting up a movement to provide support for cancer patients and their families locally. Nigel was diagnosed with inoperable, incurable, local advanced prostate cancer in May 2004 and, after the usual treatments began to fail, he was referred to Professor Hardev Pandha who was conducting a 14 month vaccine trial. Nigel and John had, by then, set up successful support groups in Bookham, Edinburgh, Dorking and Guildford. Professor Pandha’s work on immunotherapy, then a barely recognised science, was increasingly successful and he asked Nigel if ToC could extend its brief to be a fundraiser for the research team at the University of Surrey. Topic of Cancer charity was registered in 2013 and funds equipment, annual maintenance, staff costs and some PhD students. Sadly John died in 2015 suffering from multiple myeloma. Nigel stood down himself in 2019 feeling it was time for new blood and new ideas but is proud to have been a co-founder of ToC with John. Nigel was awarded an MBE for his services to people with cancer.

Our mission is to raise funds to support ground-breaking research into immunotherapy treatments, using the body’s immune system to beat cancer, and to support cancer patients during and after treatment. Although the charity’s main focus is fund raising to support Professor Pandha’s research team, it has grown in other directions.

In 2017, fitness classes for cancer sufferers were started at a fitness studio in Guildford under the guidance of specially trained fitness coaches. Our specialist coaches understand what is needed to support physical health and fitness for cancer patients, and they also understand what it takes to deal with the emotional impact of cancer.. These groups, known as ToCFit, proved to be very popular and the original 2 classes have grown to 5 a week to include Pilates. The fitness classes are now run by a charity, ThriveFit in partnership with ToC.

In 2017 ToC took over the running of the Guildford Tenovus choir which was rebranded as ToCVoices, a choir leader was appointed and it now has about 30 members who have been touched by in some way with cancer. Research proves that singing produces hormones that greatly support the immune system and boosts feelings of wellbeing. The choir rehearse every week and perform regularly.

The Guildford Cancer Patient Support group, ToCTogether, continued to meet and, throughout lockdown, groups have continued to function either on Zoom or WhatsApp

Co-Founders

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Nigel Lewis-Baker

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John Blackburn

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