Mighty daffodil packs a powerful punch since 1957
30 March 2017
This April, the Canadian Cancer Society marks its 60th Daffodil Month by rallying Canadians to show their support for people living with cancer and honour those who have died by wearing a daffodil pin or buying fresh daffodils. Money raised through flower and pin sales during Daffodil Month funds critical cancer research, education and advocacy initiatives as well as compassionate support programs across the country.
Volunteers will be hitting the streets in communities across Canada, canvassing door to door, selling pins and fresh cut daffodils and encouraging the public to give generously.
Cyndy Pearson, 70, of Ottawa has been volunteering for the Canadian Cancer Society for more than 50 years. “When I was 15, my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Treatment in the 1960s is not what it’s like today. She was in so much pain and died a year later. I promised I would do what I could to make life better for someone else and haven’t stopped volunteering since,” says Cyndy. “I never knew when I started how many times my life would be touched by cancer, including my youngest daughter who was diagnosed with a brain tumour at 28.”
Bill Pratt, 89, of Tillsonburg, Ontario has clocked 57 years of volunteer service for the Canadian Cancer Society. “My wife, Marion, who died last May, was also a CCS volunteer for over 50 years, mainly canvassing and selling daffodils,” says Bill. The couple lost their 7-year-old daughter to cancer. “Money raised by volunteers is vital to the work CCS does and makes a real impact that benefits real people.”
Pearson and Pratt are just two of the many long-serving volunteers across the country who have been involved for many decades. Volunteer efforts like theirs, along with the support of donors, have helped increase the cancer survival rate from about 35% in the 1950s to over 60% today.
“Volunteers are absolutely critical to the work we do across the country, says Lynne Hudson, president & CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society. “It’s truly heartwarming to hear the stories of dedicated Canadians who have been CCS volunteers for, in some cases, more than 50 years. Because of their hard work, enthusiasm and loyalty, we will continue to make progress in cancer prevention, treatment, information, support and advocacy. We are so grateful to all our wonderful volunteers.”
Six decades of progress
Thanks to supporters and donors during Daffodil Month, these are a few of the achievements that have been possible:
In the 1950s, about half of Canadians smoked, compared to about 18% today. At the time, you could smoke everywhere – on planes, in classrooms and even in doctors’ offices. Today, thanks to advocacy work led by CCS, it is prohibited to smoke in public places and workplaces, and health warnings must cover 75% of cigarette packages.
Since 1987, CCS has partnered with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada to produce the annual cancer statistics report, which is designed to support health professionals and policy-makers in their work. It has helped increase awareness about all forms of cancer and advocate for policy changes, such as banning indoor tanning for youth and providing the HPV vaccination for boys.
In 1996, CCS launched the toll-free Cancer Information Service (CIS). Since then, CIS has answered well over a million enquiries from people who have cancer, their families and others.
Since 1957, CCS donors have funded $1.4 billion in cancer research, including supporting these projects:
In 1958, Dr Robert Noble and Dr Charles Beer discovered the drug vinblastine, which has dramatically improved the outcomes for children diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Today 93% of children diagnosed with this cancer will live at least five years after their diagnosis.
In the 1970s, Dr Victor Ling discovered that the p-glycoprotein prevented chemotherapy drugs from working on cancer cells. His findings changed the development of treatments as researchers began to investigate how to overcome this resistance and improve survival rates for patients.
Four sisters from Portage-la-Prairie, Manitoba, participated in a clinical trial group to test the drug exemestane after their mother died of breast cancer in 1983. In 2011, the trial found that the drug reduces the risk of breast cancer by 65% for women at increased risk of breast cancer.
In the early 1990s, Dr Eduardo Franco contributed to the groundbreaking finding that the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes cervical cancer. This discovery led to the development of the HPV vaccine, which is helping prevent cervical cancer for many thousands of women worldwide. HPV also causes certain mouth, throat and genital cancers.
Join the fight. To learn more about Daffodil Month or show your support, visit cancer.ca/daffodil.
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.