Today is February 1st. Do you know what month it is? Not a trick question – this is a very important time for us all here at AICR as February is National Cancer Prevention Month. That means 29 days to shine a spotlight on the need for Americans to embrace and make healthy lifestyle changes to protect their health and reduce their cancer risk – and we are determined to make each day count.
It’s important to us because although there are huge strides being made in cancer treatment with new drug discoveries and precision medicine, these are expensive and come with their own challenges. We have a public health crisis — the number of cancer cases due to obesity and lack of physical activity will reportedly surpass those due to tobacco in 20 years. Prevention has the potential to save costs and suffering — and we need to think broadly about it as an effective strategy.
The chances are that if you are reading this blog, you already know about and take some steps to reduce your own cancer risk as part of your daily life. You might already know that an estimated one-third of US cancer cases could be prevented by eating healthy along with being active and a healthy weight. Many more could be prevented by not smoking and using sun protection. Maybe you try one of our health–e recipes, count your steps or watch your portion sizes on a regular basis. So are we simply preaching to the choir?
Perhaps – but that is where our campaign theme; “Cancer Prevention; Together We Can” comes into play. As in previous years, we’re asking you to share with us the steps you’re taking to lower your cancer risk: the healthy choices you, your family and your friends are making about what you eat, how much you move, and how you manage your weight. Tweet us at @aicrtweets with the hashtag #cancerprevention and join the conversation on the AICR Facebook page.
In the coming weeks, you may be be one of the millions of Americans who sees our Cancer Prevention: Together We Can public service announcement on your tv, and in your favorite magazine or newspaper. (If you do, tell us about it!) That PSA directs you to our CAN PREVENT website, which is full of interactive tools and information that brings our cancer-preventive message home.
Last year, we reached millions of Americans with our empowering message. But I’m pleased to say that there’s something different about our campaign in 2016.
This year, we’re not alone.
This year, AICR is leading a partnership of like-minded organizations and associations, who are helping us share the life-saving message of cancer prevention..
Here is the full list of organizations who have joined their voices to ours. We’d like to offer our special thanks to the campaign’s chief sponsor, Yakima Fresh, a partnership of fruit growers, packers and distributors in the Northwest US. This campaign couldn’t happen without them.
And we want you to join us. Please – in addition to sharing your own stories, would you pass on the message of reducing risk and share our materials just one person – family, friend or colleague? Someone who is unaware or skeptical – help us reach more people through your personal connections.
Finally, we highlight personal choice a lot in our campaign materials, but I want to make something clear: individuals can’t do it alone. To effect the kind of systemic healthy changes that protect against cancer, they need to supported. That support can come from their friends and families, of course, but they also need to know that the healthcare system has their backs. And that schools, governments, and private businesses are working to make it easier to make healthy choices.
That’s the “together” in “Together We Can.” And that’s why we’re so happy to be joined by other organizations this year, as we strive to show Americans what they – what all of us – need to do to prevent hundreds of thousands of cancers in the US every year.
Together, we can.
Deirdre McGinley-Gieser is the Senior Vice President of AICR Programs & Strategic Planning.