Make Blood Cancer Visible
September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month.
Last year, in 2017, the event was marked with many other blood cancer charities, with an extraordinary art installation in London, named “Make Blood Cancer Visible” – which featured the names of 104 blood cancer patients in red letter statues – and exhibited in central London. 104 statues – to remind people that 104 people are diagnosed with a form of blood cancer every day.
On that occasion our own Trustee and Oxford Group Coordinator Claudia Richards was chosen to present a section on the day. She said then:
I have clear memories from my adolescent years of adults around me talking about cancer in hushed tones, with the term itself not even being voiced. We have thankfully moved on from that in the last 50 years! During that time, awareness raising campaigns have allowed us to inform ourselves about the visible signs and symptoms of, for instance, meningitis, stroke or heart attack. We are also gradually breaking down barriers to talking about mental health issues. So maybe it’s high time we did the same for invisible diseases, and particularly blood cancers which account for one-third of all cancer deaths.
In the minds of the general public at least, the term “cancer” is predominantly associated with solid tumours, and specifically the four most common forms. As far as blood cancer goes, while most people may have heard of leukaemia, for instance, they are unlikely to be aware of the symptoms, let alone be familiar with terminology such as “chronic”, “acute”, “myeloid” or “lymphatic”. That is, until they – or someone dear to them – receives that diagnosis. And as clinicians are clear about the fact that early diagnosis is key to a positive outcome, raising the profile of blood cancer and its symptoms is key to ensuring that more people seek medical advice at an early stage.
Blood cancer, rare or otherwise, needs to be made visible, and we can all help to make it so. We may not all have the artistic vision of a light installation in Paternoster Square, but we can wear a lapel badge, share information on social media, raise funds for a patient support group or blood cancer charity, talk to our MP about the importance of the APPG on Blood Cancer and ensure our GP receives information material on blood cancer symptoms and diagnosis.
Make Blood Cancer Visible Installation in Central London
MDS UK members were also there raising awareness
Several MDS UK members were covered in the event – and had their statues displayed. Some even chose to keep their statues!