As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, we’re working with Club Doncaster – the community arm of Doncaster Rovers – to raise awareness of cancers we need to get better at spotting earlier.
We’re targeting fans and their families, using a matchday event, social media and other publicity to remind them of the warning signs to look out for.
Men can be slow at seeing their GP with what they perceive to be trivial matters, so we’ve tried to encourage them to spot the cancer warning signs early.
At the recent game against Barnsley at the Keepmoat we focused on lung cancer, trying to spread the message that you should contact your GP if you’ve been coughing for three weeks or more.
It can be hard to measure the effectiveness of health awareness campaigns in terms of changing people’s behaviour. So in the three weeks since the match we’ve asked Rovers fans to let us know what they thought about the Tackle Lung Cancer Early and Get Extra Time campaign and if it had any impact on them.
We placed a survey on our website and asked fans to answer questions about the campaign, which featured current player James Coppinger, former player Tim Ryan and Sheila Horton, from Doncaster, who is a lung cancer survivor.
Pleasingly, some 95 per cent of those who responded said they had seen it. The vast majority said they had seen it featured on either the big screen at the Keepmoat – where it was played at half-time – or on one of the information cards handed out at the game.
We asked if, before they had seen the campaign, they knew what the potential signs were, eg a cough lasting over three weeks. Interestingly, 56 per cent said they did and 33 per cent said they didn’t.
We asked if they would have previously sought medical advice for a cough lasting three weeks or more, and 48 per cent said yes but 52 per cent replied no.
But after knowing what to look out for we asked if they would now be confident to seek medical advice. And 97 per cent said yes. Just three per cent said no.
The further good news was 97 per cent also said they would now feel confident to tell someone with a lingering cough they should go and see their GP.
Everyone who responded to the survey said they thought it was good and we had some useful feedback, including from one supporter whose lung cancer was spotted early and treated. His consultant said at the time that the operation would give him at least five years more life – and that was eight years ago!
Now that’s the kind of feedback I like to read.
Watch out for our new prostate cancer awareness campaign next month.