What does 15 September mean to you?

The 15th of September marks the 11th anniversary of World Lymphoma Awareness Day (WLAD) and Be Cancer Aware will yet again be putting lymphoma on the South African map through their I am the voice of lymphoma campaign.

Over the last three years, the I am the voice of lymphoma campaign has teamed up with a number of local organisations and NGOs to spread the word about the signs, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of lymphoma.

This year, the campaign is doing something different. Instead of profiling the numerous lymphoma survivors and patients across the country, they are speaking out. Through a video that will be posted on various social network platforms, the charities, the families, and the survivors themselves will be taking the mic and talking about lymphoma and how it has changed their lives.

This video of hope will have a call to action, asking viewers to spread the word by sharing the message online. Through this campaign, we will be connecting the public with the real voices of lymphoma – those who have supported the cause, stood by and been a pillar of strength, and of course, the survivors themselves.

Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer involving the lymphocytes in the body. Lymphocytes are cells of the immune system that help fight infection. When they start transforming and multiplying uncontrollably, they can form a cancerous tumour[i].

The statistics speak for themselves – over one million people worldwide live with this aggressive cancer, and over 1 000 people are diagnosed every day, yet it is still very misunderstood and misdiagnosed[ii].

This is partly due to the fact that lymphoma is often only identified when all other diagnoses are ruled out because the signs and symptoms can appear so broad, and similar to influenza and TB. Indicators can include lack of energy, unexplained fever, swollen glands, coughs, night sweats, persistent itching all over the body and general, unexplained weight loss[iii].

I am the voice of lymphoma will be joined by long-time lymphoma advocates and survivors, ’95 World Cup rugby star Chris Rossouw, funny-man Kevin Perkins (otherwise known as Chris Naicker), former SuperSport Presenter, cyclist and philanthropist, Xylon van Eyck and Ilse-Mari Hodgskiss of Big Brother SA fame. Newcomer, EWN sport journalist and Radio 702 presenter, Jean Smyth, will also be lending his voice to the campaign.

The public is invited to actively participate in this initiative by showing their support for WLAD on Be Cancer Aware’s Facebook page and sharing the posts with their friends. By standing together in awareness of this cancer, perhaps more people can be diagnosed and helped.

[i] Faces of Hope Foundation (2012) Lymphoma. [online] Available at: http://facesofhope.co.za/awareness/lymphoma [Accessed: 9 Sep. 2014].

[ii] Lymphomacoalition.org (2010) Global patient survey. [online] Available at: http://www.lymphomacoalition.org/index.php/research/global-patient-survey [Accessed: 9. Sep. 2014]

[iii] Lymphoma Coalition. 2013. Signs and Symptoms. [online] Available at: http://www.lymphomacoalition.org/2012-10-16-15-49-43/signs-and-symptoms [Accessed: 11 Sep. 2014].