Next week, on February 4th, World Cancer Day takes place. Its aim is to get the whole world talking about cancer, in a bid to raise much needed awareness of a disease that effects so many of us in many different ways. Approximately 8.2 million people in the world die each year from cancer, so it is truly an illness that affects us all.
World Cancer Day’s tagline is ‘We Can, I Can’ which explores how each of us can make a difference in the global battle against cancer. Here are some of the keys ways in which we can help, both as individuals and as a collective to fight against the burden of this terrible disease.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Everyone can make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of cancer.
More than a third of cancers can be prevented if people stick to a balanced diet, maintain a healthy BMI and enjoy regular physical activity in their lives. However, it is smoking that is the single largest preventable cause of cancer on a global scale. The great news is that for those who are able to kick the habit, they can enjoy almost immediate health benefits such as an increased life expectancy.
We Can Challenge Perceptions
Sadly there are many communities in the world that consider cancer to be a taboo subject. People with cancer who are living within those communities can suffer from discrimination and isolation which makes it hard for some to even admit that they have cancer. This can stop patients from seeking diagnosis or support until it is too late.
Communities such as these can be helped by education programmes to challenge shared perceptions and improve the collective awareness and knowledge of cancer in the community. Education about cancer at school level will improve the situation for future generations, but there is also call for governments and the media to act now to inform older generations of the current help that is available to them.
Understand That Early Detection Saves Lives
There are so many different types of cancer and diagnosing each can be difficult as some warning signs aren’t apparent until it is too late for treatment.
However, there are various screening methods in place to deal with common types of cancer such as breast cancer, cervical cancer and prostate cancer. It is vital that individuals attend NHS screenings for these types of cancer when they are invited to do so. It is also important that people look out for common warning signs such as a lump in the breast or a mole that is changing in shape or size, so that they can get it checked out.
Create Healthy Environments
Schools and workplaces are both communal environments that can influence positive change towards the battle against cancer for future generations.
Workplaces should be safe areas that are free from smoke and carcinogens such as asbestos on a global scale. Schools also have a responsibility in setting the foundations for equipping children with the ability to understand the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices. Presenting pupils with balanced food options in the school canteen and encouraging plenty of physical exercise through sports education classes at a young age are hopefully choices that will be instilled within them for life.
Wear A Unity Band
If you’d like to show your support towards World Cancer Day, then you can choose to make a small donation to a cancer charity or wear a Unity Band which costs £2 and is available from Cancer Research shops and partners. The band represents a show of unity and celebrates survival, promotes solidarity for those currently in treatment, remembers loved ones lost to cancer and symbolises the need to reduce the burden of cancer on our future generations.
Talking Hands Campaign
Another way of spreading the message is to join World Cancer Day’s Talking Hands Campaign by doing the following.
- Scribble a supportive WCD message on your hand, such as ‘We Can, I Can’.
- Take a picture of your hand.
- Share the picture on as many of your social media accounts as you can using the hashtags #WorldCancerDay and #WeCanICan
- Visit WorldCancerDay.org to see your picture on the wall of support.
Cancer can seem like an overwhelming disease to take on single-handedly, but if we each join the World Cancer Day campaign and spread the word, then we can unite and take positive action towards beating this terrible illness.
Remember that if you’re at all concerned that you may be experiencing any unusual symptoms, then don’t hesitate to visit your GP for an examination. Survival rates for the most common types of cancer in the UK are three times higher when diagnosed early.