Cancer – nobody thinks it can happen to them…

BME Cancer voice

Photo from the BME Cancer Voice

Cancer doesn’t discriminate; cancer isn’t picky or selective; cancer simply doesn’t care who you are, how good or bad a person you might be. It doesn’t matter; it makes absolutely no difference. What can make a difference is to be aware; noticing small changes in your health that might mean something but hopefully nothing. It’s true, nobody ever thinks it is going to happen to them but tragically it does happen to some –  that nobody could be somebody you know; it could be you.

This isn’t an easy article to write,  but I’d like to share something with you all first; something that makes cancer all a little more real. I’ve already said – ‘nobody ever thinks cancer will happen to them’, but of the 6 people I can see right now, right here and right in front of me, I know that in 12 months, four of them have been personally affected by cancer. A friend; a partner; a parent; themselves. As most of us will know, it does happen and no, it’s not fair. The dark truth is that you can’t really control whether you or a loved one gets cancer but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to lessen the risks by changing habits (click here for more information) and increasing survival by detecting cancer early on. It’s the latter which we want to tackle this week.

Unlike cancer, we’re not being intentionally selective here but, in addition to general information and advice, we wanted to highlight two main campaigns that are specifically targeting British and Minority Ethnic (BME) people and women over 70.

And so for the first – the launch of BME Cancer Voice today. Research has revealed that ethnic minorities are associated with later diagnosis of cancer, leading to poorer survival (source: Cancer equality). And so, part of the campaign is about raising awareness of cancer, its signs and symptoms and screening programmes in BME communities. The other focus is to help provide a voice in the NHS to support people affected by cancer in BME groups. The Black Health Initiative is proud to announce that this work has been entrusted to them, with the re-launch of this happening today at the House of Commons.

The call to action is to firstly please spread the word so BME voices can be heard; help break the fear by breaking the myths (nobody thinks it can happen to them) because  early diagnosis really can make a difference and support is available. The second is to get involved.

Anyone from a Black or Minority Ethnic background aged 16 or over, who has an experience of cancer can take part,  and they are also inviting families and carers to join in (regardless of their ethnicity). There’s a choice of what you can do and how much you can do – either taking part in a one-off survey or by taking part in up to four surveys a year to look at different aspect of cancer experience.

If you’re still not sure about getting involved, please read Dr Debjani Chatterjee’s (MBE) experience here and if you want to find out more, please visit the BME Cancer Voice website here.

Later this week, we’ll share our support for the Be Clear on Cancer campaign for women over 70.

Lizzie Whewell


About betterlivesleeds

Health, social and age-related care services working together to make Leeds the best city for health and wellbeing
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