From September 23-26, 2009 I attended the Go Public Global Leadership Forum for Cancer Control in Ottawa. Canada’s Campaign to Control Cancer, together with its international Steering Committee, issued a global call to action: the urgent need to “Go Public” when it comes to cancer. They felt the time was right to create a new social climate about cancer control: one that engages the public in support of a new global response to cancer. A big mandate for a three-day meeting, but I have to say I left with more knowledge than I came with, which is not always a guarantee when you attend a conference.
I got to attend interesting workshops, but mostly, I got to listen to inspiring speakers. People like Steve Hildebrand, Deputy Campaign Manager of the Barack Obama Presidential Campaign; Wendy Mesley, Cancer survivor and Award-Winning Broadcast Journalist for CBC; and Stephen Lewis, Professor in Global Health and Former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa; just to name a few, shared their thoughts on cancer control. One thing that came out of the various speeches is that cancer is preventable in a high percentage (they were not clear on the exact percentage though: 40 per cent, 60 per cent, 95 per cent). To me, the important message here is “preventable.” I have more to say about this, so check my next blog.
Of course conferences like that also provide us with the opportunity to network and also learn from our colleagues and supporters. I was invited to do a presentation about YACC. My co-presenter was Pat Taylor, mother of Sara Taylor, a young adult with cancer who passed away in 2000 after working on significant projects with her mom to help raise awareness surrounding young adults with cancer. Pat presented a short portion of her movie Chasing Rainbows: Young Adults Living With Cancer which talks about issues young adults face.
We then discussed with the participants about the young adult reality and what we can do to change it. These exchanges reinforce our partnership with people everywhere who have been affected by cancer. These individuals give us energy and new ideas as we move forward.
I will stay tuned to any new developments of Go Public, but I feel the noise made by cancer fighters will be much louder in the coming years and it’s well overdo.