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.