Ontarians fear cancer above many other diseases, and more than one-quarter delay medical attention fearing what the doctor might find: Canadian Cancer Society encourages Ontarians to share their fears about cancer

05 November 2012


Today, the Canadian Cancer Society officially launches The FearLess Project to help change the way Ontarians think about, talk about and deal with cancer. The project provides Ontarians with a place to share and acknowledge their fears as a first step to addressing them at www.thefearlessproject.ca.

A recent survey showed that 70% of Ontarians fear cancer ahead of numerous other diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

“Fear can prevent people from being proactive about seeing a doctor, and can ultimately affect health outcomes and their ability to get the care and help they need,” said Susan Horvath, Vice President, Leadership Philanthropy, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division. “The FearLess Project is our way to help Ontarians begin to communicate their fears and demonstrate how the Canadian Cancer Society can help play a role in alleviating the fear.”

“The vision of the Canadian Cancer Society is creating a world where no Canadian fears cancer. We’re not there yet, but the Society hopes that by better understanding Canadians’ fears about cancer, it will enable us to further tailor our services and support for people facing cancer, develop new programs and advocacy strategies to address identified gaps or specific needs or even suggest new types of research,” said Horvath.

In support of the launch, the Society commissioned Ispos Reid to survey Ontarians to learn about their biggest fears about cancer:

  • The vast majority (70%) of Ontarians fear cancer ahead of numerous other diseases, including heart disease and stroke (59%), Alzheimer’s (57%) and diabetes (41%)
  • Eight in 10 Ontarians who have been diagnosed with cancer fear the disease; however, more than half of people who haven’t known anyone diagnosed with cancer also fear the disease
  • Women, in general across Ontario, fear the potential outcomes of cancer more than men — including the cancer returning (84% vs. 68%), missing important life events (80% vs. 63%), having to tell loved ones (77% vs. 57%) and physical changes (62% vs. 44%)
  • The two biggest fears expressed are ‘feeling sick and unable to do everyday things’ (82%) and ‘dying and leaving behind loved ones’ (77%)
  • 87% of Ontarians ‘would want to know’ that they had cancer, even if there was nothing that could be done to treat it. Although more than one-quarter of respondents (27%) say that a barrier for getting screened and tested for cancer is that ‘they’re afraid of what the doctor might find’

In 2004 at age 34, Tammy MacIsaac-Horvath of Cannington, Ontario, was diagnosed with stage 4 uterine sarcoma, a rare and deadly type of cancer. A wife and mother of two young boys, fear was something that Tammy knew very well when she was told she had two weeks to live.

“Having a young family and being told that I had two weeks to live was heart-wrenching, to say the least,” says Tammy. “Being here eight years later, I can say that I feel very lucky and because of my journey, I now have a fearless perspective on life. I encourage all Ontarians to join the conversation at www.thefearlessproject.ca.”

The FearLess Project is a bold step in engaging Canadians in a broader undertaking that aims to change the dialogue around what it means to confront, cope with, and ultimately change cancer forever.

The Society is asking Ontarians to join The FearLess Project by visiting www.thefearlessproject.ca to share their fears of cancer. Once their fear is entered, participants will be directed to information on how to help cope with, manage and potentially overcome these fears. They will also be able to see the fears expressed by others, which may help to reduce a sense of isolation.

The FearLess Project will be promoted through a number of initiatives during November, including a partnership with Air Miles, an exciting one-day FearLess exhibit in downtown Toronto, and a dedicated special section in the Toronto Star.

The Ipsos Reid poll was conducted October 22-26, 2012 on behalf of the Canadian Cancer Society. For this survey, a sample of 1,017 Ontarians from Ipsos Reid's Ontarian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos Reid online polls are calculated using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points of all Ontarians.

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. No other organization does what we do; we are the voice for Canadians who care about cancer. We fund groundbreaking research, provide a support system for all those affected by cancer and advocate to governments for important social change.

Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca today.

For more information, please contact:

Stephanie Michaelides

Communications Coordinator

Canadian Cancer Society


Phone: 416-323-7039