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A deeper look at the importance of World Cancer Day

1 February 2019
Thuy Khuc-Bilon

Thuy Khuc-Bilon, World Cancer Day Campaign Manager
Union for International Cancer Control

On the cusp of World Cancer Day, our campaign manager Thuy Khuc-Bilon looks at why we need a day like World Cancer Day.

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. 

Thuy Khuc-Bilon is the World Cancer Day Campaign Manager at UICC, working alongside UICC members, cancer organisations and hospitals, corporate partners, cities, schools and the general public, to help empower their involvement in this growing, global movement. Her work and curiosity had led her to marketing, branding and communication roles in higher education, the arts and in public health - in Australia, Canada, the UK and Switzerland.

World Cancer Day takes place every year on 4 February and is the uniting global initiative under which the world can come together to raise the profile of cancer in a positive and inspiring way. The day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and improving education about the disease alongside calling on governments and individuals across the world to take action.  2019 will be the first year of the new three-year campaign, ‘I Am and I Will’. The new theme is an empowering call to action, urging for personal commitment and represents the power of our actions taken now to reduce the growing impact of cancer.  This year follows on the back of last year’s tremendous campaign success, including nearly 1,000 activities taking place in 130 countries, over 14,000 press mentions, and over half a million tweets, and more than 50 governments participating in 2018.

For more information, please visit: www.worldcancerday.org

Last update: 
Friday 15 February 2019
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