A Nottingham couple are highlighting Cancer Research UK’s new thought provoking awareness campaign ‘Spot Cancer Sooner’.
Cancer survivor, Derek Smith, aged 68, and his wife Carolyn are backing the campaign which runs in Nottingham throughout November with a humorous TV ad.
Designed to show how easy it is for people to ignore changes in their body while they get on with their busy lives, the ad shows a ‘lump’ in a road gradually getting bigger while office workers, mums, cyclists and road cleaners seem oblivious to the change and the disruption it causes.
Eventually the bump becomes so big that people have to walk around it but, despite this, still ignore it. Finally, in a poignant moment at the end, one person acknowledges its presence and the
voice over says: “It’s easy to ignore something, especially when we’re busy. But spotting cancer sooner could save your life.”
Striking outdoor poster adverts will also feature in prominent locations throughout Nottingham including train stations, bus stops and shopping centres.
The couple are keen to support the campaign after Derek, a bus driver and former marathon runner, was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in October 2013.
Carolyn, who is a member of the Nuthall and Kimberley Fundraising Committee which raises money for Cancer Research UK, encouraged Derek to go to the doctors due to persistent indigestion.
Derek said: “I had been experiencing recurring indigestion but otherwise felt quite well.
“Through her role on the fundraising Committee, Carolyn knew it was important to get any unusual body changes checked out, so was adamant I went to the doctor. Fortunately my GP referred me straight away for tests to make sure everything was ok. As it turned out it wasn’t, and the quick thinking of both my wife and GP probably saved my life.”
Tests at Nottingham City Hospital revealed Derek had a tumour the size of a pea in his oesophagus. The fast referral from his doctor meant the cancer was diagnosed at an early stage and hadn’t spread.
The tumour was initially removed using an endoscopic procedure but he went on to have an operation in February last year to make sure all the cancer had completely gone.
He said: “Hearing I had cancer was a huge shock and then being told you need surgery – you definitely do worry, but thankfully all went well.”
Derek was given the all clear from cancer in February 2014 and has since gone back to work and will be taking on a cycling challenge next year.
Derek said: “I feel extremely fortunate my cancer was caught early. I’m backing Cancer Research UK’s Spot Cancer Sooner campaign because I want to encourage people to get to know their own bodies so they can tell when something changes and get it checked out.”
Carolyn, whose daughter died of breast cancer, aged just 37, added: “When we found out it was cancer I just thought here we go again, but finding the cancer early has proved key to his recovery. As Derek’s early diagnosis and successful treatment shows spotting cancer early really can help save lives.”
Every year, around 24,500 people in the East Midlands are given the devastating news that they have the disease.*
Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the East Midlands, said: “Derek and Carolyn are fantastic ambassadors for our Spot Cancer Sooner campaign. They know from personal experience just how important early diagnosis can be.
“Cancer Research UK’s ‘Spot Cancer Sooner’ campaign encourages people to reflect on their own behaviour and empowers them to be more in touch with what’s normal for their bodies.
“There are many possible signs of cancer, it’s not just about lumps. What our new campaign aims to bring home to people is that it’s good to be aware of changes to their bodies and to get them checked out.
“Most cases of cancer are in people over 50, but anyone can develop the disease. We hope the adverts will prompt anyone who notices an unusual or persistent change to their body to go and see their GP.”
Lisa added: “It may well not be anything serious, in which case getting checked will give peace of mind. But if it does turn out to be cancer, finding it early could make all the difference.
“They can also pick up the phone to one of our Cancer Research UK information nurses and discuss any concerns confidentially.”
One in two people born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime but the good news is more people are surviving the disease now than ever before. Survival has doubled since the early 1970s.
Diagnosing cancer earlier is one of the most powerful ways to beat it. The chances of successful treatment are higher if the disease is found at an early stage.
Cancer Research UK believes that no one should be diagnosed too late to have treatment that might save their life.
The charity is working in partnership with GPs and other health professionals to help diagnose cancer earlier and pilot new approaches, as well as leading and evaluating awareness campaigns to help people recognise possible symptoms of the disease.
For more information visit www.cruk.org/spotcancersooner or ring Cancer Research UK’s information nurses on 0808 800 4040.