Wow! I remember writing last years World Cancer Day post like it was yesterday. It really doesn't feel like a whole 12 months has passed since then. So much has happened and changed, but it still feels like the world has stood still. This whole pandemic/lockdown is a very strange thing, and even after nearly a year of it, I've still not wrapped my head around it.
Alas, a year has passed, and we are back here again - World Cancer Day, 4th Feb, same day every year, my 5th one as a cancer patient.
Last year, I wrote about how various places around the world are impacted by cancer, in comparison to the UK. You can read that one here - I really did my research and was pretty proud of it so would love it if you gave it a read.
This year, I have been compelled by some of the facts being shared by the World Cancer Day organisation (led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)). This year's theme is 'I am and I will', continuing on from 2019, and it is encouraging everyone to make a commitment related to cancer and promoting action. Everyone has a link to cancer in some form or another, and 1 in 2 of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives. It is a major issue, and even if you don't think it affects you personally - chances are it does, or it will. Your action could be speaking up about cancer, educating yourself or others, vowing to have your HPV vaccine or go to your smear or bowel/breast screening, vowing to always apply your sun protection (SPF), donating blood. It is simple. No matter who you are and whatever you do - you really can have an impact and move the world towards a more positive future for cancer patients globally.
10 million people die each year from cancer - more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined! (worldcancerday.org) That number is just going to keep rising, if we don't act now. And I can't be the only one afraid of the backlash of COVID, the way it's delayed diagnoses and treatments, paused research - surely this has got to have had a severe impact on our cancer goals?
Did you know that 70% of cancer deaths occur in low-middle income countries? And 90% of these countries don't have any access to radiotherapy? I learned that this week, and even though I knew that lower income countries had worse cancer prospects, I didn't quite realise how bad it was. Imagine living somewhere and knowing that there is a treatment that exists that could save your life, but there is no way of getting it.
"Childhood cancers represents the starkest area of inequity with survival rates over 80% in high income countries and as low as 20% in low income countries." (Childhood Cancer International)
Where you live and who you are should not affect what access to treatment and resources you have - but it does. This is why World Cancer Day exists and why so many organisations like the UICC are working to reduce cancer inequities. We need to view cancer as the global pandemic that it is, knowing that every country's needs are different and so treating each situation individually.
We can all do something to help, so why don't we?
One very small thing I am taking part in for World Cancer Day, is their very own 21 day challenge. There are a few to pick from, whereby they email you a challenge for each day. I am doing the Health challenge, and each day I am given a very simple task to do with my health/keeping healthy, accompanied by facts about cancer and why health is so important. Today, I was instructed to make a Lassi, a task I was very happy about.
"A smoothie or a lassi with the benefits of added fruit can be a great way to include more nutrients into your day. By "mixing sweet ingredients with tart flavors...(this) can help ease nausea", which can be a side effect of some cancer treatments. (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)."
It is very simple, but effective in getting the message across and educating as many people as possible. Please consider signing up to one of their challenges, it's completely free - what do you have to lose?
Now, I will leave you with some words I wrote for Instagram.
"I am an advocate! I am a survivor! I am a thriver! And of course, I will always speak up.
Oh, cancer the forgotten pandemic, the other big C.
Having now lived with cancer for 5 years, I can say that accepting your own diagnosis is one thing, but accepting that it is constantly happening to other people every single day is something else entirely.
I wish I could stop it from happening- but in fact rates of cancer are increasing. We have to do something about it, we have to take action. This year has been a shambles for national and global health, and a shambles for cancer patients.
World Cancer Day is about raising awareness of this global disease. Raising awareness of symptoms, preventative measures, fighting for research, fighting for equal access to resources all across the world.
I feel incredibly lucky today that my cancer is being successfully treated by a very clever drug. But I feel incredibly sad that the same can't be said for everyone who will one day hear the words 'it's cancer'.
And that is 1 in 2 of us.
You can help today, by spreading the message. Share on your social media pages, speak to your friends and family, educate yourself and others, check your body. Be aware. Donate to cancer charities. Hold a fundraiser. Your impact doesn't have to be groundbreaking to be worthwhile. But please, do something."
Until next time lovelies.