Imperial College Netball Club (ICUNC) have teamed up with societies across Imperial to bring you a week jam packed with events, with everything from talks on cancer symptoms (delivered by our very own students) to an infamous ACC night (did someone say Snakebite?) with an ICUNC twist. The week is all about getting educated on cancer symptoms, how to check for them and when is a good time to pootle on down to your GP just to get it checked out. We want to get rid of the taboo of cancer chats, it doesn’t have to be scary or sad, it can be simple and light hearted too!

“We’ve got to get talking about cancer. Get to know your body, get to know what’s healthy and what’s out of the ordinary”

What’s this week all about?

Everyone knows somebody with cancer. That seems to be a fact of life. It may be the friend of a friend, that neighbour you never really talk to or a school teacher you can’t really remember; sometimes it’s a bit closer to home - a grandparent, a family friend, maybe a parent. Regardless of who it is, that doesn’t change the irremovable fact that the C-word is one of those things that everyone lowers their voices about, and can only be discussed with sombre tones and sad expressions.

I know that, because that’s what happened to me. But rather unexpectedly, it wasn’t a random family friend. It was Lauren. Andy, our lovely Editor-in-Chief, wrote about Lauren Dennis back in October, just after she passed away after an 18-month fight with small bowel cancer. Lauren was my best friend, my housemate, and probably the best Goal Keeper our netball team had acquired in many MANY years - she’d disagree but it’s true.

Lauren was 23 when she passed away.

I didn’t really know anything about cancer before she was diagnosed. I knew the basic stuff that everyone knew about: lumps are bad, you lose your hair, and the treatment is called chemo? But I knew next to nothing about the breadth of cancer, not a clue about what symptoms would manifest themselves as, let alone how to check for them!

Early detection of nearly all types of cancer increases survival rates. When I did the research, the statistics were staggering:

More than 9 in 10 bowel cancer patients will survive the disease for more than 5 years if diagnosed at the earliest stage.

More than 90% of women diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stage survive their disease for at least 5 years compared to around 15% for women diagnosed with the most advanced stage of disease.

It seems mind blowing that these statistics exist, yet I’ve still never heard anyone telling their pals on the bus about how they checked their boobs for lumps last night, or they went to see their GP just to figure out that unexplained weight-loss.

The answer is simple: Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about our bodies, let’s talk about any weird things we notice, and let’s talk to our GPs. Then maybe that nightmare diagnosis doesn’t have to end in hushed conversations, and sad glances at you every day, but instead popping champagne at that last clean scan, and a long, happy, healthy life.

So how can you get involved?

Tuesday 29th Jan: Chats about Cancer in SAF Lecture Theatre G34 @6pm

Come join us whilst fellow students give a quick rundown of common cancer symptoms, how to check for them, and when to contact your GP! Bring your housemates, bring your course mates, bring anyone! Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Wednesday 30th Jan: ACC – On Wednesdays We Wear Pink

Another term another ACC. This time, we’re going pink. Like, REALLY pink. Join us down at the Union in your best Mean Girls outfit, with proceeds from the night going to some very worthwhile charities. Giving to charity and pints? Win win really.

Saturday 2nd Feb: Netball Funday

ICUNC bring you the annual Netball Funday. Get yourselves into teams of seven (no previous netball experience required – seriously, you don’t even need to know the rules) and come on down to Kennington Park to play a bit of netball with your mates. Fancy dress and beers are encouraged. It’s £3 per person, with all proceeds going to the Alexandra Sales Trust.

For all info, check our Imperial College Netball Club on Facebook!

What are these charities?

The main charities we’re supporting are: - The Alexandra Sales Trust - CoppaFeel - Great Ormond Street Hospital - CATS (Cancer Awareness in Teenagers and Young People Association)

Have a look at any of their websites for more information, but all of these organisations give out some awesome advice on how to check for cancer symptoms and how often to check, as well as funding vital research into both detection techniques and research into treatment.

Come join us for as many, or as few, events you can muster. This week is all about integrating Cancer Chats into our daily lives. It doesn’t have to be scary if you know you’re all checked – check yourself before you wreck yourself. Get talking to your friends about those embarrassing details, ask them if they’ve been feeling okay lately. Find a weird lump, a weird rash? Don’t worry, just pop down to the health centre and get it checked out.

99.9% of the time it won’t be anything – but that 0.1% is lifesaving.