There is massive debate today over national press and UK talk shows about this new shocking campaign – which many of you may notice is very similar to the award winning campaign for Harrison’s Fund - http://www.harrisonsfund.com/news/i-wish-my-son-had-cancer/
A campaign to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer has sparked outrage after the ads showed patients wishing they had more common types of the disease such as breast and testicular.
The ‘envy’ campaign was devised by the charity Pancreatic Cancer Action to highlight the poor survival rates of the disease.
The crux of the message is that the disease has a five-year survival rate of just three per cent – compared to 85 per cent of breast cancer patients and 97 per cent of men with testicular cancer.
In the TV ad, genuine pancreatic cancer patients are seen saying ‘I wish I had testicular cancer’ and ‘I wish I had breast cancer’ as information about symptoms and survival rates appears on the screen.
But critics have slammed the controversial campaign as ‘horribly insensitive’ and ‘repugnant’.
Many took to Twitter to condemn the campaign. @lesleykinney said: ‘Your I Wish I Had Breast Cancer slogan is offensive, repugnant and hurtful towards all cancer victims and their families.’
@MBCNbuzz wrote: ‘Survival stats meaningless if you’re the one who dies. A death is a death.’
@BCCare said: ‘Unless you have experienced it yourself, it’s impossible to fully understand the brutal reality of breast cancer’
Critics took to Twitter to condemn the controversial campaign as ‘horribly insensitive’ and ‘repugnant’
@ABHuret said: ‘Since when is “any” #cancer a contest? @OfficialPCA promotes misguided “I Wish I Had Breast Cancer”‘
@Lolly_Knickers wrote: ‘I understand that pancreatic cancer patients want a better prognosis and funding but you can’t use cancer as a competition.’
The charity’s founder, Ali Stunt – diagnosed herself with pancreatic cancer in 2007- has defended the campaign
@bjj1212 wrote: ‘”I wish I had breast cancer”. Horrible insensitive campaign for those with bc and those who have lost loved ones to it.’
And @Brandie185 wrote: ’I had breast cancer. I speak from the heart when I tell you I wish it upon NO ONE. Not a single person.’
But the charity’s founder, Ali Stunt - diagnosed herself with pancreatic cancer in 2007 at the age of 41 – defended the campaign.
She told MailOnline: ‘When I was diagnosed I was horrified to learn the survival rate and actually found myself wishing I had a different type of cancer.
‘I understand that any type of cancer is a horrible, horrible disease – not least metastatic breast cancer [that which has spread] – and would not wish cancer on anyone.
‘But there are patients with pancreatic cancer who would prefer to have another type with a better prognosis [such as breast or testicular].
‘Eighty-two per cent of patients with pancreatic cancer will die within a year and the average life expectancy is four-six months.’
She added that many patients have not even heard of pancreatic cancer before they are diagnosed with the disease – despite it being the ninth most common cancer in the UK and fifth most common cause of cancer death, killing 8,000 people in the country every year.
Ms Stunt continued: ‘Awareness is key to early diagnosis and this is particularly true for pancreatic cancer.
‘In our case, despite the best efforts of ourselves and other pancreatic cancer organisations, for 40 years, pancreatic cancer patients in the UK have faced the same grim prognosis.’
But in a statement, Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: ‘We strongly dispute any message which suggests that one type of cancer is preferable to another.
‘We believe Pancreatic Cancer Action’s recent campaign does just this. I’ve yet to meet a man or woman with breast cancer who would consider themselves in any way fortunate to have received a diagnosis.
‘It’s utterly misleading to imply that breast cancer is a more desirable form of the disease. Cancer does not discriminate; 12,000 women die each year from breast cancer in the UK and more than 8,000 people die each year from pancreatic cancer, which is truly devastating.
‘More than 160,000 people lost their lives to cancer in the UK in 2011, we must avoid a “competition in cancer” and work together to stop this unacceptable burden.
‘Of course we acknowledge the work of all charities dedicated to stopping cancer, and hope that we can collaborate to stop people from getting, and dying from, all types of the disease.’
For more information visit: pancreaticcanceraction.org
HOW CANCER SURVIVAL RATES COMPARE
BREAST CANCER (About 50,000 patients diagnosed each year in the UK)
1 year survival – 95.8 per cent
5 year survival – 85.1 per cent Figures are only for women
10 year survival – 77 per cent
TESTICULAR CANCER (Around 2,200 men diagnosed each year)
1 year survival – 98 per cent
5 year survival – 97.2 per cent
10 year survival – 96 per cent
PANCREATIC CANCER (8,000- 8,500 patients diagnosed each year in the UK)
1 year survival – 17.4 per cent of men and 19.1 per cent of women
5 year survival – 3.6 per cent of men and 3.8 per cent of women
10 year survival – 2.9 per cent of men and 2.7 per cent of women
Source: Cancer Research UK