In today's world the ordinary person with a legitimate grievance often feels overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the bureaucracy facing them. Will anyone really listen to them and can they really get justice?
One remarkable Belfast woman showed that it is possible to take on the establishment and make a difference. Carol Parkinson spent the final years of her life fighting to be given a life-prolonging anti-cancer drug as well as helping others with the disease. She died last month, but even in death was determined to continue her crusade. She donated her body to medical research in the hope that it might advance research into new therapies for tackling cancer.
When she was denied a revolutionary new drug which could give her a longer survival time she brought the health trust to court. Her action helped raise awareness of the life-giving properties of the drug and the potential to help other patients. It has to be recognised that some therapies are very expensive and that the NHS for all its funding is far from a bottomless pit. Yet there will never be a meeting of minds between the public and health managers on who should or should not be given specific treatment. Anyone suffering from a potentially lethal disease will grasp at any opportunity to prolong their lives, regardless of the cost.
Doughty warriors like Carol mean that health authorities must determine their priorities.
There should be no blanket bans on treatments or therapies. Instead each case should be examined on its merits to ensure that resources are well targeted and used effectively.
Carol's plight moved hundreds of ordinary people who collectively funded her treatment with the new drug and it worked, giving her vital extra months of life to see what she wanted most, her son starting secondary school.
It was a final gift to an extraordinary woman who had given so much in life, and still more in death.