Busting cancer myths in our communities

The Alliance is supporting a number of Cancer Community Awareness Workers located across our region with the aim of reducing health inequalities and improving the rates of early cancer diagnosis.

Cancer Community Awareness Workers target communities where cancer is either more prevalent or outcomes from cancer are poorer. They raise awareness of the causes of cancer, it’s signs and symptoms, and encourage people to take up invitations to the cancer screening programmes.

To date thousands of conversations have taken place with people at community events, in work and social settings as well as online.

In this blog we speak to Debbie, one of the Cancer Community Awareness Workers.

Introducing Debbie

Hi, I’m Debbie, one of the Cancer Community Awareness Workers from Healthworks.  I deliver cancer awareness talks, training sessions and set up cancer information stalls advising anyone and everyone to make sure their cancer screenings are up to date.

I speak to men and women about doing regular self-examination and give them information on how to do this correctly. I point them in the direction of the information and resources available to them and I have a variety of information leaflets to take away so they can read more about cancer awareness and screening.

What has a pub crawl got to do with symptom awareness!

Recently I’ve been on a pub crawl giving out “Do It For Yourself” lung symptom awareness beer mats. I have explained to bar staff the importance of not ignoring a cough you have had for more than 3 weeks and the importance of contacting your GP if this is the case.

The pubs I visited were ones that had a lot of people standing outside smoking, so I knew it was worth the visit to get the information across. I had some strange looks when going into the bars in the middle of the day by myself and not ordering a drink, but it was more than a pub crawl!

When sitting in a pub, I find that you automatically read what is in front of you so hopefully if someone has had a cough for more than 3 weeks this would encourage them to get in contact with their GP and get checked out. With any luck it might not be anything to worry about, but prevention is better than cure.

Connecting with people living in our communities

I think it is important to be approachable, informative but relatable. It can be hard to find a balance but once you do, you get across to a lot more people and it is so rewarding to know people are taking the information on board to improve their health.

Why do I think this role important?

I think connecting with the people who live in our local communities to raise awareness of potential cancer signs and symptoms and prevention is one the most important thing we can do to improve cancer outcomes.