An ad campaign aimed at raising awareness for pancreatic cancer has instead been lambasted as insulting and insensitive as it features patients wishing they had more common types of cancer such as breast and testicular.
The “envy” campaign was created by the charity Pancreatic Cancer Action to publicize the disease’s terrifying survival rates, Pressat reports. The primary point of the message is that the disease has a five year survival rate of just 3 percent compared to the 85 breast of breast cancer patients and the 97 percent of men with testicular cancer.
The ad shows several pancreatic cancer patients saying “I wish I had testicular cancer” and “I wish I had breast cancer” as information about pancreatic cancer’s symptoms and survival rates flash across the screen.
The commercial ignited outrage on social media, with many taking to Twitter and Facebook to condemn the campaign.
@lesleykinney said: “Your I Wish I Had Breast Cancer slogan is offensive, repugnant and hurtful towards all cancer victims and their families.”
@ABHuret said: “Since when is ‘any’ #cancer a contest? @OfficialPCA promotes misguided ‘I Wish I Had Breast Cancer’”
@Lolly_Knickers wrote: “I understand that pancreatic cancer patients want a better prognosis and funding but you can’t use cancer as a competition.” And
@Brandie185 wrote: “I had breast cancer. I speak from the heart when I tell you I wish it upon NO ONE. Not a single person.”
Pancreatic Cancer Action’s founder continues to defend the campaign.
“When I was diagnosed I was horrified to learn the survival rate and actually found myself wishing I had a different type of cancer,” 41-year-old Ali Stunt told Daily Mail.
“I understand that any type of cancer is a horrible, horrible disease — not least metastatic breast cancer [that which has spread] — and would not wish cancer on anyone. But there are patients with pancreatic cancer who would prefer to have another type with a better prognosis [such as breast or testicular]. Eighty-two per cent of patients with pancreatic cancer will die within a year and the average life expectancy is four-six months.”
She added that many patients did not even know what pancreatic cancer was before they were diagnosed, despite it being the most common cause of cancer-related deaths. Chief Executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer Chris Askew, however, refuses to condone any message that says that one cancer is preferable to another.
“We believe Pancreatic Cancer Action’s recent campaign does just this. I’ve yet to meet a man or woman with breast cancer who would consider themselves in any way fortunate to have received a diagnosis.
It’s utterly misleading to imply that breast cancer is a more desirable form of the disease. Cancer does not discriminate; 12,000 women die each year from breast cancer in the UK and more than 8,000 people die each year from pancreatic cancer, which is truly devastating.”
Askew reminded Daily Mail that anything that could make cancer patients work against each other rather than together is not healthy for the quest to find a cure, as the fight to stop cancer is in no way targeting a specific type of the disease.