A global event to raise awareness about cancer, World Cancer Day, took place on February 4 and UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre endeavoured to highlight changes that can be made to avoid preventable deaths.
The theme of “We can. I can.” (get involved in the fight against cancer) has been adopted for this year’s campaign along with a “Talking Hands wall” that is aimed to spark discussion about cancer.
As explained by Catriona McDonald, director of operations at UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre, the wall of “talking hands” combines photos, sketches, and stories from patients and staff about their cancer experiences.
“The idea is one that has generated a huge amount of interest and involvement from our patients and staff. We have constructed a colorful, decorative wall that’s prominently displayed in the foyer of the Centre. The messages are extremely earnest and powerful and are about the struggle with cancer, in addition to the themes of hope, family, and empowerment.”
‘We can. I can.’ message can be spread by simply writing a note on your hand, taking a picture of it and sharing on social media using #WorldCancerDay and #WeCanICan. It’s prompting a discussion about cancer, about making healthier lifestyle choices, about taking preventative action to avoid cancer and showing support for those going through cancer treatment and support for their families.”
The Irish Cancer Society cites that 50 percent of all cancers are preventable and 30 percent are preventable through lifestyle changes alone. In collaboration with the European Code Against Cancer developed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the European Commission, these institutions aim to inform people about actions they can take for themselves to reduce their risk of cancer.
In many cases, changes to lifestyle, access to education, and maintaining a healthy diet can be the first steps in effectively decreasing the risk of many cancers.
Dayle Hacking, MD, medical director and consultant radiation oncologist at UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre, said, “We have begun to make a difference in cancer mortality rates in the last two decades. This has been done mainly through the population’s increased awareness of the need for a healthy lifestyle and regular medical assessment. In addition to a systematic approach to research, providing an evidence base for best practice in the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of the various different forms of cancer has helped affect positive change.”
Since 2006, UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre has been providing the most advanced radiation therapy treatments for prostate, breast, lung, head and neck, and colorectal cancers.
UPMC also provides an extensive range of nutritional advice, symptom management, counseling services, and palliative treatment programs to the Southeast Ireland’s public and private patients.