The founder of the Mouth Cancer Foundation, Vinod Joshi, has been awarded an honorary Office of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, (OBE), by her Majesty, the Queen, in recognition of services to fighting cancer.
It is 20 years ago this month that Vinod began his journey to save and improve lives by creating the charity’s first website, two and a half years before turning the ‘ahead of its time’, successful web portal, into a registered charity.
Dedicated to raising awareness, educating and promoting the early detection of mouth cancer as well as supporting those affected by it, Vinod set up the Restorative Dentistry Oncology Clinics’ Mouth Cancer Awareness website to complement the work he was doing at the clinics he ran at St Luke’s Hospital, Bradford and Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. The forum in the early days created a network of support for head and neck cancer patients going through treatment.
The website experienced phenomenal growth, especially the message board facility which became a robust online support group. This convinced the NHS consultant to establish the Mouth Cancer Foundation in June 2004, a not-for-profit organisation with the intention of becoming a registered charity, which happened in May 2005.
Vinod says, "My work as an NHS consultant in restorative dentistry included maxillofacial prosthodontics, which is the rehabilitation of head and neck cancer patients using prostheses and providing the supportive care needed following their side-effects from their treatments.
“I created a support network for these patients from my hospital work and it evolved into the Mouth Cancer Foundation charity, which provides support for mouth cancer patients, their carers and information for dentists and the public to facilitate early diagnosis of these cancers and save lives.
“The charity also organises the annual Mouth Cancer 10 KM Awareness Walk in Hyde Park, London – the only charity walk for mouth cancer awareness and support, as a memorial for lost loved ones and a tribute to patients and their carers.
“The award is a recognition of the vision and perseverance of all those patients, carers and the many supporters who have sustained the vision I had for the charity from its inception and grown it over the years. It is a big tribute to them. Without them, we would not have got this far. Sadly, some are no longer with us. God bless them. Congratulations to all.”
The charity continues to grow from strength to strength with patients, carers and survivors at the heart of all activities. A large part of the charity’s remit today is also educating dental and medical professionals on the early detection of head and neck cancers. Vinod has certainly created an amazing legacy!