World Cancer Day @ MaRS: Engaging youth in the fight against cancer

World Cancer Day @ MaRS: Engaging youth in the fight against cancer

On February 4, 2013 we celebrated World Cancer Day at MaRS by debunking four common cancer myths.

  1. Cancer is just a health issue
  2. Cancer is a disease of the wealthy and elderly, and of developed countries
  3. Cancer is a death sentence
  4. And, lastly, that cancer is our fate

The goal of the event was to help stop the myths, fear and confusion surrounding cancer and to empower one another to take control of cancer.

At the event, Anita McFarlane and I spoke about how cancer does not necessarily need to be our fate and how youth engagement projects like Engaging Emerging Leaders in Cancer Control (E2C2) help give students a voice and a platform to create change.

It has been shown that almost 50% of cancers are preventable if we change our behaviours and make healthier choices. Since most of these lifestyle choices are formed and moulded during the young adult years, it is important to get this message across before young people begin to pick up unhealthy habits. This is why youth are so important in the fight against cancer; we need the involvement of students, because students will listen to their peers.

Students getting involved at the University of Toronto

At the University of Toronto, E2C2 is focusing on healthy eating and physical activity. Our campaign, which is called One Step, will engage students to take just one step at a time to control cancer. Simple things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or eating one dark green veggie a day can make a big difference!

Additionally, we plan on working with the university’s food services team to host a cooking class with a focus on cancer-fighting foods and we will be looking at others ways we can work alongside them in the future.

Last but not least, we want to have a Healthy Campus Summit day during orientation week to get students thinking about how to make the University of Toronto a healthy campus. Ideas will be submitted and the groups with the best ideas will get funding to implement their plans.

To find out what the other four universities involved in E2C2 will be focusing on, be sure to check out The Campaign to Control Cancer website.

Throughout the evening, the panellists emphasized the importance of passing on the torch to the younger generation. I couldn’t agree more! We as students need to pick up the torch and run with it.