It’s finally over. One month, no drink: no wine at conference receptions or at table with friends, no beer at the pub, no G&Ts, you name it. All in the name of Cancer Research UK Dryathlon. But, why bother?

Well, part of it was a personal challenge. As a priest, and an archaeologist, I have double the chance of being an alcoholic, going by the stereotypes (and not just). It was good to learn to refuse a drink, and go for the non-alcoholic option. Doing the Dryathlon gave me also the right motivation, and a correct excuse not to drink without appearing totally weird, or holier-than-thou. OK. I did. But just a bit. And all for a good cause!

But, there is more to it. I never hoped to collect large sums of money, but I hope to help – even in a small way – to raise the profile of cancer research among my friends. I think research is important, and in many places (including my native Malta) quite underestimated, mostly because it is hidden.

It is far easier to see the great work being done by so many in the medical profession, and through charities, in the direct work with cancer patients. You meet these people, they are the ones supporting us and our loved ones when cancer hits close to home. Where would we be without them? Facing cancer would be an even darker and scarier place.

The researchers’ work, however, remains hidden. You never meet these people. Or their frustrations (and as a PhD student I can sympathise with that, even if my field is totally different). They are the ones spending hours collecting data, working through samples, thinking their strategies, many of which lead to dead ends. But they stick to it, hoping in a new lead, a new road. Hoping that one day, there will be a breakthrough. A little one, yes, but that inches us forward, one little step at a time. They receive few thank-yous for the work they do, and it is easy to forget that they even exist.

One way of saying “Thank you” is by acknowledging their work, and supporting it. I want to do my little bit. But it isn’t about me, it’s about them. Donate to support their work, possibly sponsoring me, or another Dryathlete. If you haven’t, here’s one option:

https://www.justgiving.com/jmbriffa-dryathlete2015

Or in the UK, text JMBR99 £5 (or other amount!) to 70070.

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