Today is World Cancer Day and as organisations and charities raise awareness and break down barriers surrounding the disease, a Nottingham-based group are flying their own flag.
Started in 2008 cancer awareness group, Changemakers, uses a one-to-one approach to try and speak to as many people as possible.
Breast cancer survivor, Helen Morledge, 65, has been a volunteer with the charity right from the beginning.
She said: “We go out to public groups, put up displays in different surgeries, and hold events like radio plays”
“We use simple language instead of medical terms to explain the disease, and this makes a massive difference because it makes people less afraid to ask questions.”
“Every cancer is personal. It’s hard to break down barriers but talking about it really does help- both you as well as other people”
-Helen, 65, Changemakers volunteer
The Clifton-based ex-Governor added that besides the lack of awareness, the biggest barrier with the disease is people’s unwillingness to talk about it.
She said: “Every cancer is very personal. While breast cancer survivors have become more open to talking about it, those with lung or prostate cancer are not as willing. It’s hard to break down barriers but talking about it really does help- both you as well as other people.”
Mrs Morledge believes that being aware of the signs and symptoms and catching the disease early is key. The group plans to include information on how to check yourself on its website to help with this.
Changemakers has changed lives by busting the myth that only older people get cancer by educating younger people about the dangers of the disease as well.
She said: “A young lady came to one of our events a few years ago, and said she wasn’t going to get a mammogram. We convinced her to try. She came back the following year. She’d had her mammogram, they’d found a malignant lump, and she was on the road to recovery.”
But despite the various awareness days, weeks and months, people remain unaware on many key elements of the illness. Helen believes the help of doctors and schools are necessary to bring about change.
She said: “Doctors could do more screenings, give out information pamphlets and do more routine work to encourage people. Schools could hold camps or workshops for students to help them understand as well.”
Changemakers is using World Cancer Day to put up displays detailing the signs and symptoms in different health centres across the city to get people thinking about getting checked.
Visit the Changemakers website for further information : http://changemakerscancerawareness.com/