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Todd Talks, February 2022


Cancer Council Victoria’s CEO Todd Harper, pictured in 2018.

Welcome to the first edition of Todd Talks.

I’m grateful to have the opportunity to reach out to you direct monthly to provide an insight into our work and the people who make up Cancer Council Victoria. This column is for you, our supporters. So, ask questions, suggest topics, or let us know how we can help.

The countdown is on to World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day is held on 4 February each year and is led by the Union for International Cancer Control to raise worldwide awareness, improve education, and encourage government action to reduce the global impact of cancer.

For me, World Cancer Day is an opportunity to reflect on Cancer Council’s connection to our peers around the world. It's the work of places such as Cancer Council’s McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer which shows the importance of being globally connected to advance cancer outcomes.

The McCabe Centre will this month celebrate their 10-year anniversary and they have made an enormous impact, not only in Australia, but globally. There has never been a more important time for such global leadership in strengthening healthcare systems in all parts of the world and I’m truly inspired by their work.

Closer to home, our most recent ‘Cancer in Victoria’ report reported a 7% decline in the number of new cancer diagnoses in Victoria in 2020, largely due to a decrease in people seeking cancer screening and assessments during the pandemic. Staying true to our mission to prevent cancer, empower people and save lives is more important than ever.

I'm proud of the many ways we have made a difference at Cancer Council Victoria. Our Quit program has resulted in smoking levels dropping to an all-time low. Also, the work of our SunSmart program makes us think very differently about being sun smart when we go outside. More people have taken up the lifesaving bowel screening test, after we ran the biggest ever bowel screening media campaign. And finally, I’m proud of the success that we’re seeing in relation to our goal to eliminate cervical cancer. I think that's achievable, and Victoria could be the first jurisdiction in the world to achieve that goal. That would be remarkable!

We’re here for you

The pandemic has added an extra layer of pressure and challenges for people affected by cancer. With the surge in COVID-19 case numbers in our community, our 13 11 20 Information and Support phone lines, are receiving a high volume of calls about COVID-19 matters and people are feeling more distressed and anxious.

If you or someone you know affected by cancer needs support, our specialised nurses provide support and tailored information, emotional and practical support, and links to our wider range of support programs. Please get in touch if you or someone you know needs support.

Stopping to reflect during tough times

As I think about the difficulties of the past two years, I reflect on the type of organisation we are today. We have prioritised kindness, compassion for others and staying connected as the key to ensure we get through this period together and continue to make important progress every day with cancer. Thinking about why we do what we do and staying true to our mission keeps our team going each day and has given me renewed energy and passion for the year ahead.

Despite long periods of COVID restrictions in Melbourne, Cancer Council Victoria was able to adapt and thrive, with our staff engagement highly maintained. As a result, we were proud to be recognised with a 2021 Best Workplace Award by Voice Project.

Voice project

Sharing our ways of coping was also important for us all and remains as we enter 2022. It’s amazing how even the smallest things helped pick us up through the hard days, like creating our own  feelgood Spotify playlist.

Until next time!

Thank you for your support. Stay safe and I look forward to providing more updates next month in the next edition of Todd Talks. Have a question for me? Ask away!