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‘Thank you for teaching me new stuff’ – Oscar’s story: the sequel

by Aine McCarthy | Analysis

11 December 2015

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Even in this digital era, we still get sent lots of letters from members of the public.

And in March this year, we got one that really warmed our hearts: Oscar Sawyers, a very clever eight year-old boy, wrote to tell us about his idea about how we could tackle cancer.

As we wrote at the time, Oscar’s idea was to “take some DNA from an animal that has slow dividing cells and put it into a human with cancer, then these cells will slow down so it can be cured.” And although this isn’t quite going to lead to a cure for cancer, we were so impressed with Oscar that we wanted to hear more of his ideas, and encourage him to stay interested in science.

So we invited him to visit the Cancer Research UK headquarters in London, to talk to us about what first sparked his interest in science and what he wants to do when he grows up.

Let’s talk science

In August, Oscar and his mum came to our London office, where Oscar – who wore his Cancer Research UK lab coat for the day – met staff from the science communications team and talked all things science. To say we were impressed with Oscar’s knowledge and understanding of biology and cancer is an understatement.

After this, Oscar had a chat with Dr Alan Worsley, one of our senior science communications officers. They discussed things like ‘what is cancer’? and ‘why do treatments make you lose your hair’? You can watch their chat below.

He climbs mountains too!

During his visit, Oscar told us of his plans to raise funds for Cancer Research UK by climbing Pen y Fan in Wales.

So we were delighted when, a few weeks ago, we received another letter (below) from Oscar informing us that not only had he completed his climb, but he had raised an incredible £1,000 for Cancer Research UK. Impressively, the total was nearly four times what Oscar had aimed to raise – or as he put it: “it was 382% of my goal”.

Made it!!!

Oscar at the top of Pen y Falls


Thank you letter - no address

Dear Aine, Sam, Dr Alan and Amy, Thank you for inviting me to the Angel building for the talk and coming to my school to talk to most of the school. I liked it when loads of people came just to hear me talk about my idea of curing or slowing down cancer. Thank you for teaching me about new stuff that I never knew as well as telling me about the world of microscope use. I am fundraising for you as well. I am going to climb Pen y Fan in my half term holiday. So far I have raised more than £600 and thank you, I am very grateful for showing me so much. From Oscar PS: Since I wrote this I did my climb. It was pretty hard but fun and I got really exhausted but it is worth it because I raised lots of money. I’ve got nearly £1,000 which is 382% of my gaol. I’m really happy.

The future is bright

At Cancer Research UK, we believe that engaging with and encouraging young people to become interested in science, and a career in research, is the key to beating diseases like cancer in the future.

And we’re sure you’d agree that with young minds like Oscars out there, the future looks bright.