Blog: Back to the Future of Cancer Research at Green Man Festival
By Lisa Whittaker
Tenovus Cancer Care's Research Engagement Officer
This time last week we were setting up our stall in Einstein’s Garden at Green Man Festival in the Brecon Beacons. This year we joined forces with the Wales Cancer Research Centre to run our stall.
Einstein's Garden is one of ten areas at Green Man and thousands of festivalgoers spend time at the various stalls (this year there were 23) with interactive, fun, engaging activities focussing on science and nature. This year Einstein’s Garden turned 10 and the theme was ‘Lifetime’ so our stall gave people the chance to go Back to the Future of Cancer Research!
3 of our PhD students, Manisha, Georgie & Silvia helped to run the stall alongside our Director of Research and Support Rhian, myself, Jodie from WCRC and Lara from CRUK.
The main aim for us going to Green Man is to raise awareness of who we are & the vital cancer research we fund in Wales. It gives us a chance to talk to a large number of people of all ages who we might not otherwise meet. It’s also a great chance to inspire children and young people as future scientists. And we were in good company with other cancer related stalls, various other organisations & universities (it’s great to see what we can learn/borrow from others).
This year I spent more time watching and thinking about what people were interested in and trying to understand the psychology behind the engagement work we were doing. A couple of things I noticed – people like to learn something about themselves and compare themselves to others.
One of our activities allowed people to find out if they were a supertaster or not. ‘Supertasters’ are people who have the ability to taste the substance Phenylthiourea (PTC). Some people cannot taste this substance at all and others taste it quite distinctly. Whether or not a person is a supertaster is dependent on his/her genetics. It’s a great way to demonstrate that we all have different genes. This went down so well that we ran out of PTC strips and people kept retuning to the stall with new friends to ask if we could ‘test’ them.
People, of all ages, but especially children love to make stuff. We had lots of different types of clay to make cells from and we had to ration this and bring in extra supplies as this activity was so popular. Our bubble machine was also a hit!
This is the 3rd year we’ve been part of Einstein’s Garden and each year we have spoken to more and more people. This year we estimated that we spoke to nearly 1,000 people over the 4 days! This is great but what meant most to me were the conversations we had with people including a couple with twins. The Dad had lost his sister a few months ago to lung cancer; their 11 year old boys were very inquisitive and wanted to know more about cancer. Another couple told me about their mum who is 88 and recently been diagnosed with endometrial cancer and is refusing any treatment, we had a really interesting chat about quality of life vs quantity. A woman who was there with her young daughter told me that she had recently found a lump, thankfully it had turned out to be a cist but it had really got her thinking what if… these stories are a powerful reminder of the difference we can make by funding research and providing support to those affected by cancer.
We're already looking forward to next year!