Raising awareness,new boundaries?

Well, firstly I would like to welcome you to my shiny new website! It is a very sentimental time for me, as two years ago, I was persuaded to create an internet presence. I was told it would be a good thing. That piece of advice became another life changing event, as I entered the uncharted waters of the Internet. Today, we are communicating around the world, and demand has increased to such a level, that the old platform could no longer do what was required of it. My thanks go to Christina, and her team, who now sponsor my cancer support work, and have enabled me to expand my reach, and help me with my many technical needs! I hope you enjoy the new format.

I have spoken frequently about how subject matter for my writing seems to appear as if by magic. This week I was slightly concerned, nothing had really stood out, as particularly interesting. I needn’t have worried, because yesterday, my Twitter feed went into meltdown with people talking about the ‘check ’em Tuesday campaign,’ being run by the Sun newspaper. Lot’s of semi naked ‘celebrities plastered all over the paper, (alongside some actual case studies) encouraging people to check their breasts. This story was inspired by Kris Hallenga who started the charity Coppafeel!

In my opinion it is a fantastic coup by Kris and her team, to get a national newspaper on board with her charity, and it has no doubt raised awareness of certain issues. But there is an argument raging, whether this is the right way of doing things.

Raising-awareness-2This campaign has followed quickly, the advertising done by the Pancreatic Cancer Action charity featuring an advert by a young lady saying that she wished she had breast cancer. A lot of criticism was received when this message was published too.

So my questions are, where will this take us? Is all publicity good publicity? Should we be grateful that cancer is now seen as a socially acceptable subject to put on the front of our national papers? Can we pick and choose about what we want people to be aware of, if we are raising awareness?

My feeling is that like in society generally, our boundaries are moving. What we are starting to accept now, would be totally unacceptable, a few years ago.Today, there are so many mediums of communication, which are constantly filled with messages. To get yours heard, it has to be more controversial, than the last one. This seems to be the way that cancer awareness is going too.I guess it has to,or it won’t get noticed? 

We have come a long way from talking about ‘the big c’ quietly in corners, and rarely in public. I often wonder if we have come too far, and people will hear so much about cancer that they will become bored, and then the message will be ineffectual. All our mediums are full of people talking about their own experiences, myself included! For me it is my passion, but I also understand, that others may not feel the same.

When I started my work in the cancer sector, approximately 6 years ago, I wanted it kept quiet, and raised funds anonymously.But slowly people convinced me, that I should tell people what I do, so they could join. I did, and people do! As I have spread the word, so more people have got involved. According to everyone around me, this is good! I do get that, but it still feels slightly unnatural. I guess people can’t help if they don’t know what you are doing. 

I would like to finalise this post with my personal views on both campaigns, then open up to your thoughts. I think CoppaFeel themselves have got a massive amount of publicity, which is good for them. It feels a very tacky campaign, and with so many ‘celebs’ finding another excuse to take their clothes off, doesn’t do breast cancer any favours. The pancreatic campaign was brave. I can see what they are trying to do, and I guess by the fact that we are talking about it, have succeeded. 

Feel free to check out the video and see what you think! (Some semi naked ladies in it, for those who may be offended!

Where do we go from here though? It would be great to get your opinion on these issues. 


  1. Kerry, the gorgeous young lady in the AD was part odf our support group. The words she used were her own opinion because of the vast difference in stats between Pancreatic and other more well known cancers. She felt she may have stood more of a chance had she been diagnosed with breast cancer. Just imagine feeling that way? My mum dies within 7 weeks of diagnosis.It was too late for treatment of ANY kind! We have seen our members rise from 160 3 years ago to over 700 today, with more joining every day. We believe we deserve at the very least a chance to fight this monster of a disease and not get ” side lined”. Some may not agree that this is what is happening but with no change in 40 years, what would you call it? Mum died 4 years ago, Kerry is being buried this week at the age of 24, still NOTHING has changed!! So hard hitting it maybe,but something HAS to change or many other families will end up devastated and wondering why this is being allowed to carry on

    • Amanda my Dad died from Pancreatic Cancer this year Jan 2014 & even though if it was my choice I wouldn’t say that, unfortunately were in a world were that’s the only way to truly raise awareness about Pancreatic Cancer esp being 40 years behind in survival rates.
      I had bone cancer osteosarcoma & were 25 years behind in survival rates so kinda know how it feels & because of my Dad too.
      Sometimes it feels like there is no choice but to do things like that as every charity is fighting for the limelight but usually only the common ones get it.
      I mean there is over 200 cancers aprox but we don’t see all of them advertise not even half & the media only recycles a few on TV to raise awareness of.
      It’s sad when those cancers hardly get any funding & you never see it on main media outlets TV/radio raising awareness of it & people constantly saying to those patients I’m sorry your in that situation “BUT” which doesn’t help their situation at all so even though I don’t agree saying “I wish I had breast cancer” at least they got some awareness from it to the public that not all cancers are doing well.

      Amanda, I blog about my bone cancer experience & my Dad’s Pancreatic cancer experience & other cancers on my blog:
      Coping with the Big C – http://copingwiththebigc.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/please-vote-for-me-on-uk-blog-awards.html

      • Hi Becki

        Thanks for taking the time to write about your experiences. As I have written in my reply to Amanda, because of this campaign, I have heard so many moving stories involving Pancreatic Cancer that I have now become active in raising awareness!

        It seems we all have opinions on the right ways of publicising things, but at the end of the day, there are many more people talking about it than there were, so I would judge that as successful.

        Thanks for sharing your experiences which are invaluable to others. I look forward to welcoming you back to the site soon, Chris

    • Hi Amanda.
      Due to this post I have been in touch with many wonderful people, discussing the issues around Pancreatic Cancer. I have heard some shocking stories of this dreadful disease, including the ones you write about above. This has prompted me to play an active part in raising awareness!I am looking to feature an experience on this site and get into more detail about PC.

      The points you make above are absolutely true, and in my own situation, if I hadn’t have written about the advert I would not be involved now. It was hard hitting but it certainly seems to be getting the message out, and ultimately that is what it is all about.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences which have promoted a great deal of positive work! Chris

  2. Love the Raising Awareness…having found my cancer via a self exam it was stage 2 and I am fine today. I think it is our obligation to share via social media. Especially to the invincible under 30. Who cares if people are offended. Then don’t read!
    Love the new website Chris!

    • I am with you most of the way there Jane and I was part of that invincible under 30 team too!
      My life now is deeply rooted in the cancer community, with my own personal issues, and the work I do. Much as we all want to make a noise about things, there must be a degree of sensitivity, simply because of the nature of what we are dealing with.
      The Sun campaign particularly, really made me think if it was the right way of doing things. I have many friends in the BC community, and there wasn’t much support for how it was done.
      I do feel the these days we do need to push some boundaries, but this style is not for all 🙂
      So pleased you like the site, thank you. It has been a massive challenge changing things round, but we needed to move with the times!

  3. Love this blog post chris.

    I like kris campaign and all the work she’s done but the sun page 3 is tacky and offends many women going through it its a bit ignorant perhaps to say who cares if it offends.

    It does nothing for highlighting the seriousness of breast cancer and sexualises it. Furthermore the sun aren’t stupid and couldn’t care less they just want publicity for page 3. Don’t be fooled

  4. So pleased you enjoyed this piece Caroline. I am with you about the campaign being tacky, but it is beginning to feel that all publicity is good publicity, as both individuals and organisations are craving it to get their message out there.

    Like you, I am admirer of the work that Kris does, and it does seem that since she teamed up with the Sun, that her work has a lot higher profile, which she might consider to be a success?

    I never believed that the Sun was interested in Breast Cancer for one minute and thanks for adding your own views to this discussion which has been really interesting, Chris

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