Opinion : Cancer You Suck
This week we saw an outpouring of grief after yet another high profile person was ripped from this world by cancer.
The death of footballer and co-founder of the Reach Foundation Jim Stynes shook those who knew him. His very public battle against the insidious disease was fought alongside so many other Australians also fighting their own battles. His death reminded everyone of the fragility of life and without a doubt memories flooded into the minds people throughout the nation remembering all those they’d lost to cancer. Personal losses are thrust forward each time someone in the public eye dies. Instantly your mind wonders to old friends, family members, children, lovers, parents, brothers, work colleagues, sisters and neighbours who have also fought cancer. Some so wonderfully win the fights, other so tragically do not. Cancer touches everyone. So much so, the Cancer Council of Australia estimates that one in two Australians will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. There’s a message here – grab every day and cherish it.
When someone you see in the media dies, names like Apple CEO Steve Jobs, actor Belinda Emmett, cancer campaigner Jayne McGrath and renowned cancer surgeon and researcher Professor Chris O’Brien, it impacts many people’s lives. It puts doubt in the mind of those struggling with their own cancer journey, it pushes grief back to the forefront for those who have lost someone close to them and it does something else, which can only be seen as a positive to come out these terrible tragedies, it makes people think about their own health.
Not all cancer stories have devastating endings with the Cancer Council saying that survival rates for common cancers increasing by 30 per cent over the past two decades. Take Olivia Newton-John and Kylie Minogue as just two examples of women whose cancer crusades undoubtedly helped save the lives of so many others. This is not just through their generosity of spirit and money raised through their foundations, but by alerting people to the importance of health checks. Women, who on hearing the star’s diagnoses, would have made a doctor’s appointment to check their own breasts. Some of these women may not have got checked at all if they hadn’t been given a jolt of reality. Women who might not have known what to look for or might not have thought it could happen to them. Women who, because of being deeply affected by someone else’s battle, got off the couch and went and got checked. Some of those women may have left it too late otherwise. Some of those women may be dead now if they didn’t.
Earlier this week, there was a story in the Mirror newspaper talking about the “Jade Goody effect” fading. It talked about how the 2009 death of former UK Big Brother contestant had lead to a huge surge in cervical cancer screening, but levels were now beginning to drop back to below when she passed away. When an identify is touched by cancer we are all touched by cancer. It makes people sit up and take notice, it scares them into action. I do wish people just booked regular health screenings without having to be scared into it though. Have you done one lately?
Organisations, obviously not wanting anyone to die from cancer, do use those moments to highlight the importance of early detection and regular screening – it might seem goulish, but it is vital. If someone’s death can lead to the saving of hundreds, maybe thousands, of lives it is not in vein. If it leads to more money being donated to cancer charities and more government funding for research to find a cure then the momentum of grief needs to harnessed.
Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Cancer sucks. Cancer needs to be taken down. We need to be vigilant at all times. We need to keep pushing for more research dollars. To donate to the Cancer Council click here. We need to find out a way to eradicate cancer so no more families have to be torn apart by it.
Have you been touched by cancer?
Have a fab day,
Main photo: news.com.au