How LIVESTRONG Battles Stigma


In 2010, LIVESTRONG initiated a pilot campaign in South Africa and Mexico that will seek to raise awareness of the global cancer burden and reduce the stigma associated with cancer through culturally relevant and targeted messaging.

The vast burden and impact of cancer around the globe is undeniable. Recent data illustrates that the disease kills more people around the world every year than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis, combined. Nearly two-thirds of cancer deaths occur in the low-income, lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income countries of the developing world. In many of these countries, where incidence of cancer is undoubtedly growing expeditiously, the stigma associated with cancer often acts as a barrier to treatment and can lead to increased mortality.

This stigma is problematic because it often frames cancer patients as deserving the development of the disease and it deeply affects the daily lives of those who have it. Many are judged negatively by family and friends, lose sources of income, are socially isolated, or in extreme situations, are outcast from communities and are left to suffer or die alone. Moreover, 41 percent of the people we interviewed stated that the fear of a negative result was the main challenge preventing them from receiving screenings. These types of beliefs commonly lead to later stage diagnosis and poorer prognoses, and in places where the stigma is severe enough, soaring mortality rates.

LIVESTRONG is addressing this problem. We are all about stories- sharing your story so that others can find the strength to share their own. One of the ways we are engaging people to share their stories is by hosting Patient Empowerment Forums in South Africa and Mexico. These forums are a way for survivors to tell their stories in front of key stakeholders in the community with the hope that they will create a formal system that will address these and other cancer issues like access to care. It is our hope that these forums will de-stigmatize cancer and raise the profile of this disease as a true problem in each country.

Please consider making a donation to our “Break The Silence” campaign through now and the 30th. Your donation can help us help others share their stories and find hope.


  1. Cancer Surviving Cyclist says:

    Again, you speak of this being an “outside the USA” problem, when it is a major issue in the USA; where solicit and receive and vast majority of your donations, even in these economically difficult times.

    1. Karen and CancerSurvivngCyclist: LIVESTRONG advocates to our elected representatives on behalf of cancer survivors throughout the US. In Texas, we successfully supported an inititive to authorize $3 billion for cancer research and prevention. We actively support comprehensive smoke free legislation in states all around the US. In California, we?re backing a $1 per pack tobacco tax increase the proceeds of which will be invested in cancer research and prevention. During the national health care debate that led to passage of the Affordable Care Act, we were a very vocal voice in advocating for measures that benefitted cancer survivors and their families. Through One Voice Against Cancer, LIVESTRONG partners with its allies in the cancer community to present a united front in Washington about what families affected by cancer expect their leaders to prioritize and act on. The US has many problems on the policy level. That is why our work in the US will continue.

      Outside the US in our target countries of South Africa and Mexico there is little discussion of cancer policy if any at all. People don’t even discuss their disease as they fear it will burden their families and cause them all to be poorly treated. For us, our work can help elevate the voices of survivors in their countries and then spur a dialog that will bring them to where the US is today. Where policies are designed to support people with cancer get access to care, screening and treatment they need.

  2. karen says:

    Very much in agreement here with CancerSurvivingCyclist. There are many citizens here in USA silently suffering with undiagnosed disease including cancer because of no healthcare or limited healthcare! They can’t afford to see a doctor, let alone purchase treatments. Livestrong: please consider putting your dollars towards the issue of every USA citizens’ right to healthcare and its ramifications regarding cancer. As a(now poor)USA citizen who has been a caregiver to 3 family members with cancer, I would feel then that my small donations were better spent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *