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September 21, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Cancer society 101

The long haul of winter is almost over—the daffodils are out and spring is imminent.

But, as many of you will be aware, the daffodil is also the symbol of hope for all those affected by cancer—whether they have cancer themselves, are a family member or a friend. Daffodil Day is celebrated on 28 August, and is the Cancer Society’s biggest fund-raising event. It is an important day for us because we get no government assistance and completely rely on public donations. But although the Cancer Society is one of the most supported charities, people are often a bit hazy about what we do. So here it is—Cancer Society 101.

The Cancer Society is divided into three areas—research support, health promotion and support and information (underpinned by volunteer effort and fund-raising). The Wellington Division of the Cancer Society divides its income equally into these areas.

Supporting cancer research has always been a major focus of the Cancer Society since it began in 1929. In Wellington the Cancer Society is supporting research at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and projects run by the medical staff at Wellington Hospital.

You don’t have to have cancer to benefit from the services and support offered at the Cancer Society. Our Health Promotion team work hard to support people to make healthy lifestyle choices. The American Institute for Cancer Research’s Cancer Prevention Policy Report released in March 2009 has stated that 49% of all colon cancer could be prevented by people adopting a healthy diet, exercising and managing their weight. They estimated that overall a third of all cancers can be avoided by adopting a healthy lifestyle. So what can you do?

You can join a CanQuit programme to stop smoking, become active with the youth ambassador programme to advocate for legislation to ban tobacco displays or help support your campus to be smoke-free. You can sign on to for easy tips to reduce cancer risk by being active and maintaining a healthy weight, and you can protect yourself from New Zealand’s high Summer Ultra Violet Radiation levels by wearing a hat, staying in the shade, wearing sunnies and SPF30+ sunscreen.

We are available to help support you planning any events that could incorporate the above.

Cancer affects people at any age, and whether you are the one with cancer, or someone who is supporting someone with cancer it can be pretty tough. Some of you will have a parent or older family member with cancer, and it can be hard if you are living in another part of the country from them. It’s not always easy talking to your friends about it and people can feel very lonely and isolated.

The Support and Information Service is available to anyone affected by cancer.

We have a comprehensive information service and the trained nursing staff can be contacted on 0800 CANCER (226 237) or email We are always happy to send people information and it won’t cost you anything. We now have information booklets in Chinese and Maori but can access a lot of useful information in other languages for people, and we have a small but very useful free library. We also offer online support through our chat line—CancerChatNZ and a telephone peer support service—CancerConnectNZ. One of the hardest things to cope with around cancer is the emotional impact it has on people. We offer a lot of supportive services around this including free counselling, support groups, and a wide number of programmes such as Living Well—for all those affected by cancer—a 6 week educational and supportive programme. Our support programme, CanSupport, is available online and is found in our quarterly newsletter, CanTalk—also available online, by email or post.

We have over 500 volunteers and you may be surprised to know that many of these are young people who donate their time and skills in many different ways. You too could make a difference—so come and talk to us about what you could do and help support this wonderful charity that provides so much help to so many people.

Sue Corkill
CanSupport Programme Coordinator
Cancer Society NZ—Wellington Division


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