Northern Ireland news

Iconic clocks across NI used in new campaign to highlight pancreatic cancer

Susan Cooke from Moira pictured at the famous quadrangle clock at Queen’s University Belfast as part of NIPANC’s #TimeMatters campaign

ICONIC clocks across Northern Ireland are being used in a new campaign to promote the urgent need for early detection, diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

The famous Titanic staircase clock, the Belfast Telegraph clock and the Albert Clock will be at the heart of the #TimeMatters initiative to mark World Pancreatic Cancer Month in November.

The campaign has been launched by NIPANC, an emerging pancreatic cancer charity with roots in a group of people who have all been affected by the condition, in the hope that powerful images will draw attention, spark debate and raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the cancer.

As one of the world’s deadliest cancers, the charity hopes to promote the message that 'time matters' if you are experiencing symptoms. It wants to see better understanding of the signs and symptoms of the disease and how seeking early diagnosis and treatment is critical to surviving it.

NIPANC is releasing a new brochure supporting and signposting people who face a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer of what to expect and where to find help and support.

Members of the charity will also undertake a one million steps challenge to represent the one million people who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer worldwide in the past two years.

Ivan McMinn of NIPANC knows what it is like to survive pancreatic cancer. In November he will reach a 10-year milestone and is one of just one per cent of those diagnosed that survive a decade.

"Pancreatic cancer is a major local health issue," he said.

"Approximately 250 people are diagnosed with the condition in NI each year.

"The death rate is unacceptably high. We have one of the worst survival rates in the world - ranking 32nd out of 36 countries.

"Three out of five patients could have surgery to cure their pancreatic cancer but were diagnosed too late. I am living proof there is hope.

"During World Pancreatic Cancer Month and especially leading to World Pancreatic Cancer Day 2021 on November 18, NIPANC wanted to do something creative, a bit different that would bring this type of cancer’s signs and symptoms into sharp focus.

"In the coming weeks we will be calling for necessary priority to be given to early diagnosis, for more research into the development of new and innovative treatments and improved support for patients and families affected by the disease."

Susan Cooke from Moira, who helped establish NIPANC, is among those who have taken part in the #TimeMatters campaign posing beside the famous quadrangle clock at Queen’s University Belfast.

She lost her husband Colin (45) to pancreatic cancer in February 2013, just 11 weeks after he was diagnosed.

"I was horrified to discover how little change there had been in the survival rates for people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer over the last 50 years," she said.

"It seemed while other cancers had awareness campaigns and money spent on groundbreaking research pancreatic cancer was like the forgotten relative."

But she added: "Together we can and will make a difference in education and awareness, research for early diagnosis and better treatment and also in supporting those affected because in life, time matters".

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