If you are wondering if ‘cancer awareness’ is a good cause to support at work, school, or in your community, we have some important facts for you to consider:
- According to research, one in every ten Indians will receive a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lives. Therefore, cancer affects all of us personally in one way or another.
- The risk of developing cancer can be lowered through lifestyle changes. This makes awareness of risk factors and prevention extremely important.
- Some types of cancer (like cervical cancer) are largely preventable through vaccines available in the Indian market. Most people are unaware of such useful information that can save lives.
Here are ten easy ways to spread cancer awareness at work.
1. Set a fitness challenge
Obesity and an inactive lifestyle increase our risk of developing cancer.
To spread awareness about this, host a fitness challenge at work. It could be something as simple as taking the stairs in place of the lift, or something as challenging as a 5 kilometer run. Depending on the general fitness levels of your co-workers, you can decide on what will work best.
Here are some more ideas for a fitness challenge:
- A one-minute plank challenge: Invite your co-workers to share a video of them holding the plank position for one full minute.
- App-based challenge: Use a fitness app to build a challenge involving a dance or workout routine.
- Set a routine: Set up a challenge to workout together in teams twice a week. It will help not just fitness levels but can also be a team-building activity.
- Steps Tracker: Participants use an app or a device to track the number of steps they take daily. Make it competitive to motivate the participants to try harder.
You can find more ideas on how to be more physically active in daily life here.
2. Choose an event
Around the year, there are months and dates dedicated to specific types of cancer. You can select one of these events to support at a local or a global level.
Each type of cancer has a specific colour ribbon to denote it. You can build activities around wearing that colour, making posters about that specific type of cancer etc, to create awareness.
List of Important Cancer Related Days in the Year
Cervical cancer awareness month
February 4: World Cancer Day (Visit https://www.worldcancerday.org/ to see the planned events)
February 15: International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day
Gallbladder and bile duct cancer awareness month
Kidney cancer and multiple myeloma awareness month
March 4: International HPV Awareness Day
Month dedicated to testicular, esophageal, and head and neck Cancers
Month dedicated to melanoma, skin, brain, and bladder cancers.
Cancer Survivors’ Month
Sarcoma and bone cancer awareness month
August 1: World Lung Cancer Day
Childhood, uterine, leukemia, lymphoma, ovarian, prostrate, and thyroid cancer awareness
Month dedicated to breast cancer and liver cancer
Month dedicated to Pancreatic, Lung, Stomach, Carcinoid cancers, Honouring caregivers, Marrow awareness
November 21: World Pancreatic Cancer Day
No significant cancer days
3. Host a fundraiser
If you would like to extend financial help to a local cancer hospital, a cancer palliative care centre, or a cancer research institute, you can host fundraising activities.
If you are able to set up stalls, you could plan to sell food or handmade objects made by your co-workers. The proceeds could go to the hospital or charity of your choice.
Alternatively, you could have an online auction to sell pre-owned items like books.
You could also start a go-fund-me page to help a cancer patient cover the cost of their treatment.
4. Set a photo challenge
With photo challenges gaining popularity on social media, you could use it to spread cancer awareness. Here are some ideas:
- Wear the colour of the type of cancer you support and upload a picture to tag others to do the same.
- Encourage healthy eating by posting images of a healthy meal you made from scratch.
- Create a frame for your display picture on social media showing your support for a cause related to cancer.
5. Give out coupons for cancer screening
Certain types of cancer, like breast cancer and cervical cancer, have screening tests that help in the early detection of the disease. Early detection greatly improves the treatment outcomes and survival rates.
Your company could sponsor screening tests at a local hospital or clinic. You can also look for insurance companies or pharmacies that might want to sponsor the screening.
6. Invite a cancer survivor
Most cancer patients and survivors in our country face a social stigma owing to their cancer. Cancer is considered taboo in many cultures and cancer patients face prejudice.
To break this, invite a cancer survivor to speak at a virtual event. They can share their cancer journey and how they overcame the many problems they faced during treatment and recovery. It is likely that their story will inspire your co-workers and even motivate them to stay positive and hopeful in the face of their own troubles.
7. Invite an oncologist
An oncologist specialises in the treatment of cancer. You would request them to conduct a webinar on how the risk of developing cancer can be reduced and some practical ways to lead a healthier life.
They could also advise you on the most common symptoms of various cancers and how to screen for these. A Q&A session at the end of their talk, might help your co-workers gain clarity on any doubts they may have.
8. Create Art
You could encourage your co-workers and their families to make picture cards for cancer patients. These could then be handed out at your local cancer hospital, or posted out to cancer survivors.
You could include positive messages or funny drawings to cheer up the patients and their families.
You could also draw on little garden pebbles which can be given away in the same manner.
Here you can see how we at Onco.com did this.
9. Contribute hospital bags
Cancer patients from lower income households often avail cancer treatment at government or trust fund hospitals. You could put together hospital bags for them to gift them a more comfortable stay during their surgery or chemotherapy.
Such bags could include a pair of warm socks and a blanket (depending on your local climate), some mints to help with nausea, bottled water or packaged fruit juices, packets of biscuits etc.
You may find that there are local bodies of volunteers who work with cancer patients. Your co-workers may be interested in joining such teams of volunteers for a single event, on a yearly basis.
For example, ICV is a volunteer organisation in Hyderabad that takes craft and music classes for children who are undergoing cancer treatment. Such interaction helps cheer up the children and also enriches the volunteers.
Start a smoking de-addiction campaign
Smoking is the most preventable cause of cancer. It increases our risk of not just lung cancer, but also cancers of the oral cavity, cervix, breast, colon and several others.
Help your co-workers quit their smoking habit. You might want to involve a de-addiction counsellor for best results.
You can read more about the link between smoking addiction and cancer here.
Promote Healthy Eating
A diet that is high in empty calories (sugar) and low in essential nutrients might lead to several diseases including cancer.
If you have a cafeteria at work, switch to healthier food options there. If not, create awareness about the link between diet and cancer through posters, infomercials and fun activities.
You might consider taking the help of a nutritionist in creating weekly meal plans for your co-workers and their families.
Providing beverages and foods that are rich in antioxidants, like green tea, and fresh salads, may also help your co-workers form healthier dietary habits.
In addition to the above ideas, you can also find local and regional organisations that work in cancer care and participate in their activities. Your participation will boost their morale and offer them the encouragement they might be looking for.
If you have any cancer patients or survivors among your co-workers and their families, you can consider facilitating them in order to encourage them and to reduce the stigma against cancer.