Cancer Champions is a movement aiming to bring 20,000 local people and organisations together to help prevent cancer across Greater Manchester and support people who have been diagnosed.
Last year, we asked people what they want to do as Greater Manchester Cancer Champions. The responses formed the following seven ‘calls to action’. New champions are asked to pledge to do one of these:
- Learn more so I can talk confidently about cancer with friends and family
- Raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening and encourage people to take part
- Speak up about why people in my community are getting cancer and what we could do about it
- Talk to people about how a healthy lifestyle can help prevent cancer
- Use my experience as someone who had/has cancer, to support others who are living with and beyond cancer
- Promote the involvement in services of the family and friends of people living with and beyond cancer
- Encourage people in my community or workplace to become a cancer champion
If you want to be part of the Greater Manchester Cancer Champion movement in your own way, you can find out more and sign atwww.ICanGM.co.uk.
This article tells the stories of
nine cancer champions.
These stories provide a snapshot of what inspires people to become involved, what they are doing as Cancer Champions, and how it feels to be part of a bigger movement to eradicate inequality in a generation’s time.
I love people. I love engaging with people. I enjoy the conversations. I want to try and do something good for the community, because this is where my strengths are. I feel that there’s a lot of stigma in our communities about cancer. People don’t want to talk about their health conditions…we just don’t do it. Especially our older people, who can often think ‘oh, I’m a certain age now, so what’s the point?’ I’m quite a chatty person. I think it’s really important to talk about cancer and I have that conversation when I’m out and about… I’m trying to influence people to get checked.
A conversation just starts with hello or whatever. You could be at the bus stop or you could be in a cafe. I wear my badges and that can start a conversation. It’s that personal contact, when you can drop in the need to check about cancer, to talk about issues that people don’t like to talk about. I do it in a different way than having a clipboard with lots of questions. If you just have a chat in an informal way, I think people engage more; you can mention the word: cancer. We need to reduce that stigma and really get people talking more openly about it.
You always hear of somebody who’s gone through cancer and it’s been negative, where they’ve lost their life, but there’s a lot of people now actually surviving cancer. The more we can get the message out there about how you can live well with cancer, as long as you get it early, then it is a real way forward.
I also support people who are living with cancer. People sometimes don’t know where to turn if they get diagnosed. If they know that there are Cancer Champions to talk to rather than family it can help. The majority of people don’t want to talk to family, because they’re frightened of upsetting them. We can turn it on its side and do something positive. There’s so much out there for people to be supported with. They don’t always know, so it’s getting that message out, about what’s available in the community once somebody is diagnosed.
We need more people in our communities to be Cancer Champions. I know we’re not going to be experts in the field, but I think that’s not always that what people need. Sometimes it’s just somebody to talk to or just someone to offload their concerns to.
I would encourage people to become a cancer champion. If you can help others to overcome what they’re going through, or if you could be that person (who they know) that they can rely on just to talk to, then I would encourage it. It will help people to get that diagnosis early or to get to the doctors to check it out. Having those meaningful conversations could be a part of your everyday life.
I am on a mission, linked to how I came to be diagnosed. A friend of mine, who I had worked with for thirty odd years, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. At the time, I knew nothing about prostate cancer whatsoever. His advice for me was to go and get checked. Doing this effectively saved my life. Without that advice, I wouldn’t have got a PSA test for prostate cancer and consequently my cancer would have developed.