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Monday 18 December 2017

'My kids saw their brother die so the 'get cancer' message upsets them'- Mum criticises controversial cancer ad

Dolores with her son Elliot (20) who passed away from cancer
Dolores with her son Elliot (20) who passed away from cancer
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A grieving mum who lost her young son to cancer has criticised the new Irish Cancer Society's 'get cancer' ad, calling for it to be removed from TV.

Dolores Grace, from Co Meath lost her 20-year-old son Elliot to cancer, five months after he received the shocking diagnosis.

In an open letter Dolores said she's writing to the Irish Cancer Society "to urge you to rethink your current advertising campaign".

"You say it's shock tactics are to raise awareness. Let me tell you in a nation as small as Ireland there is not a house, a street, a village a town that has not 'got' cancer.

"Lights have gone out all over our country because people have got cancer. My children at 7, 9 and 10 have just watched their brother who 'got' cancer die."

Dolores said she understands the "subliminal message" but that her kids don't understand it and it has caused them distress.

"My 7-year-old said 'why would anyone say they want to get cancer it's awful'. They do not get subliminal messages and your timing of this ad is shocking in that regard."

The Irish Cancer Society said their "controversial “I want to get cancer” awareness campaign has produced a 100pc increase in calls to its helpline.

The tagline of the campaign was a play on words designed to refer the need to understand or “get” cancer, or to stamp it out.

The charity's head of communications, Grainne O’Rourke, added that the campaign is having the desired effect due to a high level of public engagement.

“We know our campaign has been provocative,” she said.

“But, thanks to it, conversations about cancer are taking place in homes across the country.

“People are picking up the phone or going online because they want to ‘get cancer’ by getting informed.

“We know that one in four cancers can be prevented. If, as a result of ‘I want to get cancer’, even one more person ‘gets cancer’ by attending their cancer screening appointment, or making a lifestyle change that reduced their risk of contracting the disease, then it would have been all worth it.”

After the ad aired there was a 280pc increase in visits to the ‘Reduce Your Risk’ page on the charity's website.

More than 150 people a day are diagnosed with cancer in Ireland – or one person every three minutes.

The Irish Cancer Society said it wants everyone to “get” cancer by understanding the disease and fighting it head-on.

For more information on the campaign, visit getcancer.ie.

Read More: Of course we don't want to get cancer. But we well might

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