June 15

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Fighting cancer one day at a time

Imagine a world where no one fears cancer. 

That is Canadian Cancer Society’s (CCS) dream for Canada. With the work that the CCS is doing to fight cancer, I firmly believe that this battle is winnable. It is not easy, but it is also not impossible.

Mark Zuckerberg, in a commencement address he recently delivered at Harvard, urged us to “take on big meaningful projects”. The fight against cancer is big. Cancer is a silent enemy that touches each of us in one way or another. According to the WHO, it is the second leading cause of death worldwide with more than 8 million people losing to the battle in 2015, 70% of which occurring in the low- and middle-income countries. Needless to say, this fight is meaningful. Statistics shows that the number of new cancer cases will rise by 70% in the next two decades. It is overwhelming to think that it will victimize our and our children’s generations, that is, if we waver in this fight. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #3 is about reducing this burden by one-third. Lofty goal it is, but we are already at a time when we can actually make this dream a reality. How achingly beautiful it is to see the day when all these numbers are drastically reduced–when we hear less about our loved ones and friends suffering from cancer, when we fully know how to protect our children from its eventuality.

CCS, being Canada’s largest cancer charity, has already done tremendous amount of work towards the eradication of cancer and enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer since it started in 1938. In my five months as a volunteer here, I have witnessed how the organization is arduously fighting cancer one day at a time. Let me talk about some of the ways by how this mission is being carried out.

Research

Bringing together the scientific expertise of Canada’s cancer research community and CCS Research Insitute’s gold standard peer review process, the CCS has supported thousands of researchers over $1.4 billion in cancer research funding. Imagine the impact it has made to the advancement of human understanding of cancer, its causes, the ways to prevent it, and ways to ease the pain of those already suffering from it. Below are some quick facts from CCSRI’s 2016 Research Impact Report about the difference that its work is doing.

Research Impact

Information and Peer Support

Because knowledge is power, one of CCS’s most comprehensive mission services is making cancer information available to as many Canadians as possible. I am amazed at how extensive the reach of this service is, tailored to the way by how people want to access information–print, phone, mobile, and even face-to-face peer interaction. There are many offerings and I am particularly impressed by CancerConnection.ca, which is like your Facebook for people cancer, their caregivers, and survivors. More than just an information portal, it is actually a community of people wanting to help each other, not leaving one to face the cancer journey alone.

Information Impact

Advocacy

This is a personal favorite because I know how sustainable the impact of advocacy work is. CCS, in its many years of partnering with other like-minded organizations and the government, has been able to increase federal and provincial government commitment to tackle cancer and take action against it by broadening coverage for cancer treatment, tightening regulation for agents that increase cancer risk, and promoting healthy living.

All these work were achieved by the CCS, not alone, but with the generous support of volunteers and donors, who all passionately believe in the dream and, in their own ways, became soldiers who are firm in their resolve against the enemy. This is a great testament of how, together, people can move mountains, conquer the seemingly impossible, and make good things happen in the world.

“That what each of us can accomplish on our own will fit in the palm of our hands, but that is insignificant compared to what we can accomplish together. So open your arms, scoop up a big, messy pile of an idea and invite some people over and see what you can move together.” – Dr. Shelle VanEtten de Sanchez

To know more about CCS’ mission or how you can join the fight, visit cancer.ca.