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Tell Her Movement

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Cancer has a profound and lifelong impact on women diagnosed with the disease. Almost half of Canadian women who have, or have had, the disease say they're not getting the kinds of support they need while facing the challenges of cancer, and they worry deeply about their ability to reclaim a "normal" life, according to a newly-released report from the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CCTFA) Foundation.

The report, Lives affected by cancer...800 Women Speak captures and conveys women's psychosocial needs and experiences throughout their cancer journey. Despite a host of needs, survey respondents indicated they are determined to feel in control and empowered and want their support networks to embody and reflect this approach.

"While the medical community does a tremendous job at treating the tumour, the hearts and souls of women with cancer also need care and attention," says Sherry Abbott, Executive Director of the CCTFA Foundation. Abbott, a 21-year cancer survivor, and advocate committed to encouraging and empowering people with cancer, knows all too well about the diverse supports needed to manage the challenges and hurdles that come as a result of cancer. "As women, we are simply not meant to face cancer alone," says Abbott.

The women in the survey identified that moving on, maintaining a positive and optimistic attitude, finding a new path and balance, as well as not being treated differently because of cancer, are important to them on their journey. They clearly indicated they're looking for active versus passive involvement in their healing, and determined to feel in control and empowered.

"As physicians, our focus is of course on the treatment of the physical disease, but we must never lose sight of the fact that the woman sitting in front of us is just that - a woman. And for each woman the experience will be a little different, coloured by the things that make each of us unique. The social and emotional needs that she is experiencing are all new to her and if we can help support her through this part of her cancer experience, the better equipped she will be," says Dr. Jennifer Blake, obstetrician and gynecologist in chief at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Chair of the CCTFA Foundation's Health Care Advisory Committee.

"Our study found that 74% of respondents access the internet and cancer-related websites for support," explained Abbott. "Yet only 21% of those women find the internet to be one of their most helpful resources," says Abbott.

In response, and to better meet the needs of Canadian women with cancer, the CCTFA Foundation is launching Facing Cancer Together at www.facingcancer.ca.

Shoppers Drug Mart is the title sponsor of facingcancer.ca, part of their new Women's Health initiative, WOMEN. Facingcancer.ca is a place where women with cancer - and those who support them - can share, confide and connect with others, as well as find information and resources for those social and emotional aspects of the cancer journey that are often overlooked. Quite simply, facingcancer.ca is for everything else a woman is going through with cancer.

The "Tell Her" Movement
To celebrate the launch of the new site, the CCTFA Foundation is creating the largest ever online show of support for women with cancer: The "Tell Her" Movement. Canadians are invited to visit facingcancer.ca to add the name of a woman with cancer to the online support wall and send her a note of encouragement. The Movement is supported through social media with users posting her name to Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag and URL #tellhermovement facingcancer.ca 

Among the survey's key findings:
· Almost 50% of respondents do not feel supported in their cancer journey

· 50% of women surveyed strongly agreed with the statement "I need someone who can help heal the whole me (mind, body and spirit), not just my cancer."

· 70% of women surveyed feared recurrence of their cancer most

· 45% of women who currently have cancer identified fears about the future

· Almost half of the women surveyed (45%) told us that they were not able to "get comfortable with the new normal."

· Over 63% of women wanted to achieve a "normal life" with key priorities including "maintaining independence", "not looking sick", "not being a burden on their family" and "finding a balance in life"

· 40% of women surveyed ranked fatigue as their top concern

· 56% of respondents (both single and married) indicated a challenge with resuming intimate or sexual relationships

· 73% of survey respondents access the internet and cancer-related websites for support

· Only 21% of those women said the internet was one of the most helpful resources


About the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association Foundation
The Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CCTFA) Foundation is the charitable foundation of Canada's personal care products industry association and has been delivering the Look Good Feel Better® program since 1992. The primary mission of the foundation is to foster greater awareness of, and support for, the psychosocial needs of people living with cancer, at every stage of their journey.