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To think that cancer is portrayed very badly by cancer charities

(42 Posts)
JessM Thu 21-Feb-13 18:30:21

There is a Macmillan ad on TV. You get a cancer diagnosis and fall - presumably never to get to your feet again.
If you're lucky then there is a Macmillan nurse to catch you. I think this is a very negative message - many cancers are curable these days and a diagnosis is not a death sentence for everyone. I don't think this kind of advert helps people to cope.
And as for this ad:
Did they get Damien Hirst in to design it? He likes doing things with pills. I think it is a terrible ad. If I had seen that just after being diagnosed as having breast cancer it would certainly not have made me feel better!

Grannyknot Thu 21-Feb-13 18:34:21

I agree with you 110%.

Butty Thu 21-Feb-13 18:40:43

Right with you there, Jess. I happened to see the ad. last night and felt the whole fall issue had a very negative impact.
Nevertheless, it did highlight Macmillan, and whether it was a wise commercial or not, it's important that the work of Macmillan nurses are brought into focus.

Ariadne Thu 21-Feb-13 18:45:12

I am getting very cross with these charities. I have worked as an Ambassador and presenter for a couple of them, mainly for breast cancer, (see above) and it feels to me that they have been overtaken by some PR firm and their media hype. Image seems to be everything.

One I left when they demanded attendance at regular "training" events, where clearlyinexperienced, albeit enthusiastic, people told us how to give a talk. I would always accept that the content needed to be regularly updated, but felt patronised big time. (I am a trained, qualified trainer, and, I hope, still professional enough to be up to date.)

I recently did some work for a smaller charity, which has now got a much higher profile, and guess what....image again. I shall stick with them, but, oh, we'll see.

annodomini Thu 21-Feb-13 18:58:23

JessM, I agree - that Breast Cancer Care ad is downright scary. What is that picture trying to say to us? I'm not sure I want to know!

grumppa Thu 21-Feb-13 18:58:39

MacMillan nurses do a great job, but the ad. is terrible. I assumed it was about strokes or brain tumours.

FlicketyB Thu 21-Feb-13 19:09:00

I believe Oxfam has been reviewing how it represents the clients it serves. Constant pictures of starving children in Africa has painted a picture of the continent as full of starving needy people who cannot live without aid.

The following link discusses this in detail.

More charities might take on board what it says about presenting one's clients or purpose in a negative light. The cancer adverts currently running are enough to terrify people who fear, rightly or wrongly, that they might have cancer from seeking health advice as it makes the diagnosis so terrible.

And I agree with Ariadne, many charities are getting far too managerial in their behaviour and attitudes towards volunteers. I volunteer with a charity in the heritage sector and last year they published a strategy document long in management speak, which talked about getting many more volunteers and then spelled out how we would have proper written job specifications, regular training, assessments etc etc. It was just like being back at work.

Recently I saw the job spec they had prepared. It was terrifying if you were not already familiar with these documents and fatuous if ypu were. It was quite over the top for most volunteers who were simply going to be key holders, or volunteer to keep parts of the property clean. It was a complete misuse of time and money and would discourage new volunteers.

Ariadne Thu 21-Feb-13 19:14:46

So glad it's not just me! I am totally committed to helping in the whole cancer issue, but I do feel that they are losing sight of their main aim. But, I also know that, in order to get funding beyond public donations, there are many boxes that have to be ticked, and the charity business is now extremely competitive. I think, however, and what I have read here is backing this up, that they are in danger of losing one of their prime resources - their volunteers.
They are placating their finders, and losing sight of their bases.

JessM Thu 21-Feb-13 19:37:54

Yes we had some similar problems ariadne. Office full of semi-competent intern types who, while sweet, thought they knew it all and did not consult.
I think the bald woman covered in pills just conveyed the message that if you have breast cancer you will go bald and have to take millions of pills for ever. And that nobody will want to talk to you.

janeainsworth Thu 21-Feb-13 21:37:00

I agree about the advert. It is cold, inhuman and frightening.
This conveys a far more postive feeling.

ottosnan Thu 21-Feb-13 23:37:15

Agree wholeheartedly, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2011 - Not once did I feel unsupported by my consultants and the urology team. My MacMillan nurse was OK - it was hard to get to speak to her at times but she did get back to me as soon as she could. The 'falling' advert is unrealistic. It is scary for those just diagnosed. Its bad enough hearing you have cancer without feeling that you may 'fall' unless a nurse is there to catch you.

Barrow Fri 22-Feb-13 11:59:35

I worked as a volunteer with Breast Cancer Care for a number of years but l left when it seemed to forget what its core purpose was. There were highly paid workers at head office who would visit the different regions and were about as useful as a chocolate teapot. One even told me she didn't want to take too long on our meeting as she intended spending the rest of the weekend shopping (with BCC picking up the hotel bill).

There are many people who still volunteer for these charities who do wonderful work supporting women through their illness but are very often let down by the head office team who seem to want to work for a charity as a stepping stone - it looks good on a CV and look upon volunteers as little people who can be bullied. I actually had an argument with one visitor from head office and suggested she go back and look up the meaning of the word "volunteer"

FlicketyB Sat 23-Feb-13 08:36:50

When the charity I volunteer for published its strategy document last year and asked those in more senior volunteer roles to comment. I did.

My volunteer manager was delighted. She said it contained everything more junior, on the ground, employees thought, but did not want to risk saying as all the staff were going to have to reapply for their jobs in the new structure and they didn't want to risk their re=employment chances, which is of course a good way of stifling dissent.

petra Sun 24-Feb-13 10:54:52

This reminds me of the time I was a volunteer for MIND.
We had a regular " service user" as they were called (what a stupid term)
The young girl would come in every week and ask to use the phone. Not a problem with me but the volunteer I was on with was a stickler for the rules, I will say here that this woman had never had a job in the real world, had never dealt with people with mental health problems.
She told the said girl that it was against the rules for her to use the phone. The next thing was that the girl put the woman through the window.

Rosiebee Thu 28-Feb-13 09:36:58

You may have seen adverts recently for Prostate Cancer Research. A much needed cause. However their advert of a graveyard of crosses depicting the men who die from this horrible disease each month is terrifying if like us you've just been diagnosed with it and are still awaiting more information about its spread and treatment. There are three adverts that I've seen which paint such a black and frightening picture that I could imagine any man who might be thinking of going to the doctor with a symptom, could think again. I appreciate that they're using this sledgehammer approach to wake people up to the need for more research in this area. BUT we're living in a state of constant fear and I can't get that image of the graveyard out of my head.
It's our 2nd brush with cancer - not connected to recent problem - and I only remember getting positive feelings from Cancer research last time. We actively support the work of this charity. I don't think the Prostate research people are doing themselves any favours. They sure as hell aren't doing me any.

JessM Thu 28-Feb-13 13:28:40

Oh that is indeed grim. I have not seen that ad. Just the kind of thing that I think is unreasonable. Can I suggest that you think of some picture that you really like, something sunny and positive, a bunch of daffodils or something like that and every time that graveyard pops up, "bring up the slide" of the nice picture.
You do sound down. I remember you posting on another thread about a week ago. I hope that with winter finally drawing to a close you will be able to look forward more optimistically. Do you have something that you are looking forward to that you can think about ?

Ella46 Thu 28-Feb-13 14:31:54

Re the OP, Jessm, my best friend has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had ovarian cancer about 5 years ago.
The Macmillan advert illustrates exactly how she is feeling, and me too, at the moment.

She is the most positive person you could imagine, and obviously some cancers can be cured/eradicated, and she knows that as well as anybody, but I think the advert gives the message that, even if you are floored by the shock, there are people to help you to get back on your feet.

In her case, I will be one of them.

So, I don't see it as a negative, I see it as the first positive step to recovery.

JessM Thu 28-Feb-13 15:03:59

Sorry to hear that ella46. Such a diagnosis is always a shock. Having recovered from breast cancer I remember it well. An emotional roller coaster. It is great that she survived ovarian cancer.
There are very good survival rates in breast cancer. 85% are still alive 5 years after diagnosis and 77% after 10 years. (In other words most of those who survive the 5 years probably end up dying of something else)

Ella46 Thu 28-Feb-13 15:43:15

Thanks for those stats Jess,they are very encouraging, I just wanted to put another point of view. smile

JessM Thu 28-Feb-13 17:08:08

Glad they cheered you up. I also used to say to myself that it was very fortunate that the cancer was not in an essential organ. Can live very happily without all or part of a breast.

Rosiebee Fri 01-Mar-13 11:38:15

It's ironic JessM that we're going to see the oncolgist today to get the full results and prognosis, when this was the day we were booked to go on our Big Trip to Hong Kong and Thailand. I should actually be panicking now about 'have I packed everything' instead of which we're both in a state of dread about what the doctor will say. DH is determined that at the first even slight opportunity we'll be off to somewhere warm. I just want him to be well. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

annodomini Fri 01-Mar-13 12:15:31

Thinking of you and your OH,*Rosiebee*. I hope the prognosis is good and that you get your holiday in due course. [fingers crossed emoticon]

Ella46 Fri 01-Mar-13 13:27:46

Rosiebee best wishes flowers

whenim64 Fri 01-Mar-13 13:45:32

Good luck Rosiebee. I hope things have turned out ok for you both flowers

Galen Fri 01-Mar-13 14:09:48

Good luck!
Keep us posted.
Remember we are always here for you if you need us?flowers