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Daffodils helping make gains on cancer


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Daffodils helping make gains on cancer

by Stacie Snow

Wednesday April 16, 2008

Strathmore resident Tammy Terry is happy to be able to hold her 11-year-old son Taran after he was diagnosed with Wilms tumour - the most common kidney cancer in children - when he was just 16 months old. Taran is now cancer-free.

Buying some flowers to brighten someone’s day may also help make cancer history.

During April -- the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cancer Awareness and Daffodil Month -- thousands of volunteers from coast to coast will be selling daffodils, knocking on doors and organizing special events to raise funds and awareness for all types of cancer.

"Daffodils really mean something to people," said Linette Soldan, community services coordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society in Alberta and the North West Territories.

"They represent inspiration, hope, courage. You see the flowers and you know it is for the Canadian Cancer Society."

She added that this year the society has added coloured daffodils, representing different cancers.

"White represents lung cancer, orange represents leukemia, blue stands for colorectal cancer and pink represents breast cancer. Whereas the yellow flowers stand for all types of cancer," said Soldan, adding that the flowers are sold in countless venues around Calgary including most malls for $5 a bunch.

This year in the first weeks of April, Calgary and surrounding areas including Cochrane, raised over $187,000, which will go towards research on all types of cancer and support services for those living with cancer.

"It is really about education and awareness as well as hope and courage for cancer survivors and those who have passed on," said Soldan.

Donations raised during Daffodil Month, and year-round, help the Society fight cancer in five key areas: lobbying governments, cancer prevention, research on all types of cancer, and providing support for cancer patients and their families.

The society works on a PARIS model that promotes Prevention, Advocacy, Research, Information and Support.

In 2008 there have been 166,400 new cases of cancer in Canada, an increase of 6,500 from last year.

Of those cases, 73,800 resulted in death, a 1,100 increase from 2007.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women and the five-year relative survival rate for all cancers in 62 per cent.

But all hope is not lost; awareness campaigns such as Daffodil Month have resulted in increased knowledge and declining cancer rates.

Death rates have declined for all cancers combined and for most types of cancer in both sexes since 1994.

Excluding lung cancer, mortality rates have dropped 20 per cent in women since 1978.

Between 1994 and 2003, incidence rates declined by two per cent or more for lung cancer in males, stomach and larynx cancers in both sexes and cervical cancer in females.

Death rates are declining for males at all ages and for females under 70.

Declines are most rapid in children and adolescents (ages 0 -19).

"The key is prevention," said Soldan.

"We are doing more and more research so we can share with people techniques that they can use to prevent cancer."

She listed campaigns against tobacco use, pesticides and environmental toxins as leading preventative measures of the society.

"With smoking, we all know the risks but what about things that we use or breath in everyday that we don’t even think about?" asked Soldan.

"We need to assess the risks and get that information out because public health comes first."

For more information on the Canadian Cancer Society and Cancer Awareness Month, visit www.cancer.ca

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