This coming Monday 4 February is World Cancer Day and the theme for this year is ‘I Am and I Will’. It calls for commitment and action, and acts as an important reminder that we all have our own significant role to play.
At around about the same time that myself and the team here at UICC were working on shaping this theme for the coming three years, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released their latest global cancer statistics. There was another leap in the number of cancer cases in the last six years: 18.1m in 2018 compared to 14.1m in 2012.
The data was stark in its truth.
It was a difficult reminder that cancer continues to be one of the most critical global issues facing our world today. More than a health issue, cancer highlights the inequities faced in our societies because it has an increasingly large and crippling effect on the communities and families in low- and middle-income countries. (Read more about some of the key issues in cancer here.)
World Cancer Day cannot address all the “complexities and individual realities” of this disease. What we can do is to encourage our generation to feel more empowered by reducing ignorance, stigma and misconceptions which together cause so many needless deaths.
We are also pursuing informed discussions on the social justice issues which stem from cancer, including why access to cancer care should not depend on who you are, your gender, which part of the world you live or how much you earn. This year in particular, we’re opening up worthwhile conversations on how every one of us, individuals, communities, the health system and nations can improve early detection to literally save more lives.
More than anything, we want people to care about these issues.
Because there is nothing more powerful than when awareness and understanding meets with a deep desire to create change.
As a global movement, World Cancer Day offers each of us the chance to participate, invest in and be part of something bigger than ourselves. Our actions on this day have their consequences because the noise we make, the messages we post, the money we raise, the care we show and the pressure we place on others to take action will help us all tackle cancer head on. Cancer is a big issue, but I believe that we can be bigger in our voices and in our actions.
This 4 February, I encourage you to start a conversation or contribute to the dialogue taking place this World Cancer Day. Share your thoughts on social media and tag them with the official hashtags #WorldCancerDay and #IAmandIWill so these discussions help drive everyone towards action.