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It is hard to find a person in society today who has not been touched by cancer in some way, either directly or indirectly. World Cancer Day hopes to honor those who are fighting and those who have been lost to this dreadful disease. This unique day of remembrance and determination aims to help people understand more about cancer and inspire them to take action so that hopefully one day there will be many in society who are not touched by cancer.

While there are various types of cancers, the disease most commonly arises when cell mutations lead to growths called tumors. Unless treated, cancerous growths can start to spread and infect other parts of the body.

There’s no denying that cancer is an extremely serious and widespread health issue. Worldwide it’s the second-leading cause of death after cardiovascular diseases and it particularly impacts socio-economically disadvantaged communities and countries. Yet occasions such as World Cancer Day remind us that advances in research, prevention, early detection and treatment mean there is much cause for hope.  

Over a third of cancers can be prevented and a further third are curable as long as they are spotted in good time and treated effectively. While some risk factors such as age and genetics are beyond our control, it is empowering to know that many of our own behaviors and lifestyle choices can significantly reduce our risk of cancer. Whether it’s quitting smoking, reducing our alcohol intake, applying enough sunscreen or staying active, there are various ways we can take action to protect our health.

And when it comes to treatment, advances in medical science are increasingly helping to save lives. Vaccines such as the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine help protect people against certain kinds of cancer, and there are various types of treatment available, including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. That’s why supporting global cancer research and care is so vital to helping overcome this disease.

History of World Cancer Day

Organized by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), World Cancer Day is a fairly new holiday that aims to bring light to this age’s old disease. First started in 2000 at the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium in Paris, this day was formally adopted by what is called the Charter of Paris. The Charter was created with many goals, including to promote research on the prevention of and a cure for cancer as well as to raise awareness and bring about change to the services provided to patients. The founders knew that increased awareness and information would mobilize the global community to help combat cancer – in the spirit of this Charter, World Cancer Day was created.

The event has a particular focus on the power of collective action as well as the need to ensure equal access to medical care, including diagnosis and treatment. While it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed in the face of cancer, World Cancer Day is about taking positive action and thus is a day of inspiration and hope.

By making World Cancer Day an annual event, it was hoped that the Charter of Paris would stay in the hearts and minds of people everywhere. The goals and ideas of the Charter will never be lost as long as there is even just one person to celebrate the day.

How to celebrate World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day is celebrated all over the globe, including by the United Nations and various countries’ governments. Many cities also honor the occasion by lighting up famous landmarks and sites in the World Cancer Day colors, orange and blue.  

Wondering what you can do to honor this day? Glad you asked! You can honor World Cancer Day by educating yourself and those around you. World Cancer Day runs its own campaign each year encouraging people to get involved. In the past this has included efforts such as the “We can. I can.” campaign, which aimed to bring awareness, research and information, and the “Debunk the Myths” campaign, which strived to counter misinformation surrounding the disease. Find out more information by putting World Cancer Day into your browser and all the answers will be right there in front of you. The cancer societies in many nations will have plenty of resources available as well.

One of the key aims of World Cancer Day is to help address the anxiety and stigma surrounding the disease – speaking with others about cancer and our personal experiences with it can help reduce feelings of fear and distress and create a sense of unity and togetherness. You can find discussion groups such as online forums or simply make time to talk with friends and family.  

You might like to consider donating to a cancer organization or charity to mark the occasion. And if you look in your community, you will be sure to find many activities that you can take part in to help raise funds for research, education and care. In fact, there are events all through the year, not just on this day, that you can attend. Popular fundraising activities include bake sales, sponsored runs and personal challenges – get creative in the kitchen, put on a pair of trainers or try doing something out of your comfort zone, perhaps giving up chocolate or abseiling down a building, to raise money for this worthy cause.

Are you in a position to lead an event in a school or organization? Even better! Reach out to the folks at the World Cancer Day website. There you will find posters and contact information for organizations that you can assist. There are even some ideas for activities you can do with your group.So, whether it’s in honor of someone you love or for your own battle, it’s time to help take a step towards the day when cancer is no longer a common disease and perhaps even a thing of the past. Pick up the mantel and help us – honor World Cancer Day and join the fight!

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