Ena Barrett from the Irish Cancer Society
The new cancer awareness campaign, with the slogan "I want to get cancer" has been defended by a Donegal spokesperson for the Irish Cancer Society.
Ena Barrett, who is a cancer survivor and an active campaigner for the society and Relay for Life, told the Democrat this evening it was never the intention to offend, but if it helps save even one life in Donegal it will have been worth it.
The somewhat controversial campaign attracted a lot of online and social media debate when a series of short adverts appeared on TV and online with people claiming “I want to get cancer”.
The several clips add up to reveal that the message is about working to reduce the chances of getting cancer, as well as research to battle the illness and help get rid of cancer.
The Irish Cancer Society said the have seen a surge in demand for its information and support services following the launch of its new awareness campaign.
Since posting the 40-second advert on the society’s Facebook page, it has been viewed more than 600,000 times. The high viewership has had a direct and immediate impact on the number of people availing of our services, they added.
“Our Cancer Nurseline saw a 100 per cent increase in enquiries from members of the public on Wednesday, 4th January (campaign launch day) compared to the daily average,” a spokesperson stated.
Ena, who is based in Newtoncunningham, is the community fundraiser for the Ulster and Connaught branch of the Irish Cancer Society. She said that sometimes it takes a shocking campaign to get people's attention.
“The campaign may have come across as shocking, but the intention was never to upset anyone. I think if we save one person in Donegal from hearing the words ‘you have cancer’, be it skin cancer or any other type of cancer, simply as a result of seeing the ad, and if they went to the site or maybe got themselves checked out or took some preventative steps or reduced risks, then to me that is a success,” Ena stated.
“As a cancer survivor, it is easy for us to get upset about wording and words, but if it has a desired effect, it's worth it. We live in a very complacent world where we take news of murders and stabbings in our stride, so maybe sometimes we have to be shocking. But if it saves lives, helps people or prevents people getting cancer it is a job well done,” she added.
It is projected that by 2020 one in two people will experience cancer.
Commented Ena: "We are facing an epidemic and urge people to pay attention to their health."