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The ‘Big C’ – raising awareness among sanctuary seekers

Did you know that some cultures don’t have a word for ‘cancer’?


Catching the symptoms of cancer is difficult, even with all the right resources at your fingertips.


And when you come from a migrant community that may have deep-rooted beliefs, stigmas and even language barriers when it comes to illness and disease, this can present an extra hindrance to getting a diagnosis and treatment.


So together with Cancer Research UK, Afrocats have launched our inclusive Cancer Awareness project at the People’s History Museum in Manchester to help girls and women sanctuary seekers of Middle Eastern background and their communities feel empowered to open up during conversations about the ‘Big C’, both among themselves and with healthcare professionals.

Led by Afrocats project assistants Naomi and facilitated by Maisha, our participants shared their experiences around discussing health with their doctors, and shed some light on the facts and figures around cancer, including:


  • The most common out of 200 kinds of cancer are: breast, prostate, bowel, and lung

  • Nine out of 10 of those diagnosed with cancer are aged over 50

  • Risk of cancer increases with certain genetics and stress levels


There was also conversation around how to reduce the risk of many types of cancer, including:


  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Being physically active through regular exercise

  • Eating plenty of fibrous fruit and vegetables

  • Staying safe in the sun


Animator Toby (Tobbs) also came along to generate ideas for a visual animation tool for a future resource – welcome back Toby!

After a short tea break, participants formed two groups to talk about how to avoid getting cancer, and what topics they would like covered in future sessions - take a look below to see how it went.

One important tip to take away when it comes to cancer: if something is not normal for you, tell your doctor, because you know your body best.


For vulnerable residents like the ones we often work with who may not have documentation or a fixed address among other obstacles, it is great to know that there are Safe Surgeries in the UK where you can go to get checked for any symptoms in a welcoming and safe space.


And it is heartening to know that many cancers are treatable, and just catching it early can save lives.


Thanks to all our wonderful participants and facilitators for a fantastic workshop – session by session, we’re breaking down barriers to better health for everyone.


For information and support about cancer, visit Cancer Research UK.


And to find out how our work keeps Manchester healthy, read our recent news post.



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