Cancer Council WA have launched a new campaign through its Find Cancer Early Program featuring two West Aussies diagnosed with bowel cancer, in a bid to motivate regional Western Australians to seek medical advice earlier if they notice changes in their body.
Cancer Council WA CEO, Ashley Reid, said the new campaign titled Give yourself the best chance, comes off the back of new data that shows testimonial style ads create better connection with viewers and seem to be more memorable than messages delivered by doctors.
“I would like to thank our brave champions, Damien Healy and Cherie Slater, both having lived in the Mid West, who have generously shared their stories with us for this campaign, “ Mr Reid said.
“We know that testimonial style ads are more memorable and connect with our viewers more, so we are enormously grateful to Damian and Cherie who stepped forward to share their stories as part of this campaign.
“Their personal stories, which feature in the ads, as well as videos on the campaign website, give the campaign authenticity which we believe will have a powerful impact.”
Mr Reid said research shows people living in regional Australia have lower rates of five-year survival for all cancers combined, compared with people living in major cities.
“Previous research in Western Australia shows regional people present at the GP at a later stage because they are less aware of cancer symptoms, more optimistic, more laid back, less willing to seek help and sometimes make excuses for not seeking help, therefore resulting in later stage cancer diagnoses,” he said.
“While the Find Cancer Early messages are getting through, there is still a long way to go.
“We urge West Aussies living in regional WA who are over 40 to see their doctor if they notice anything unusual, like blood in their poo or wee, or have coughed up any blood.
“Give yourself the best chance of finding cancer early by going to the doctor earlier if you have symptoms, so that treatment is easier, and you can be around longer for friends and family. ”
If you have symptoms or unusual changes, it does not mean you have cancer. In most cases, these symptoms will not be due to cancer, but it’s important that you discuss them with your doctor just in case.
It’s important to remember bowel cancer screening kits, cervical screening and screening mammograms are designed for people who DO NOT have any symptoms. The organisation warns waiting to participate in a cancer screening program if you have symptoms could delay your diagnosis and risk a worse outcome.
Damian Healy’s story
- Damien Healy, a 45-year-old man from Geraldton, had his bowel cancer diagnosed early after seeing previous Find Cancer Early adverts and visiting his doctor when he had blood in his poo and pains in his tummy.
- Damien was hesitant to get his symptoms checked out as he feared the worst, didn’t want to hear bad news and hoped it would just go away.
- It wasn’t until Damien saw the Cancer Council WA Find Cancer Early television advertisement that he realised the importance of getting his symptoms checked.
- He booked an appointment with a doctor and was referred for a colonoscopy, which led to the discovery that he had polyps. The polyps were removed in November 2021, and one was found to be cancerous. His surgeon said if he’d have not seen his doctor about his symptoms, he wouldn’t have made it to 50 years of age.
- Damien didn’t need to undergo radiotherapy or chemotherapy and is cancer free.
- “I’m stoked I found my cancer early so I can keep living the dream,” Damian said.
Cherie Slater’s story
- Cherie Slater, a 53 year old Badimia Yamatji Wadjuk Noongar woman started experiencing symptoms in her late 40s and ignored them for two to three years before presenting to emergency with unbearable tummy pain in January 2022.
- She was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer that had spread to other parts of her body and has been undergoing chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy ever since.
- Cherie ignored her symptoms because she felt shame going to the doctors about it.
- “Please don’t be shame about telling your doctor what’s happening with your body, because these are the questions that could save your life. If you find cancer early, you can avoid being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer like me,” Cherie said.
The campaign will run from August 2023 until March 2024 on regional (GWN, WIN, SCA and SBS) and Aboriginal (ICTV, NITV and Goolarri) television stations and will be complemented by advertising on regional (Triple M) and Aboriginal (Radio Mama, Pakam, NG Media, Goolarri, 6WR Kununurra and 6PAC Tjuma) radio stations, regional newspapers, catch up TV, digital audio, Facebook and Youtube.
For more information about the campaign and symptoms visit www.findcancerearly.com.au