Women with ovarian cancer in the UK have joined forces with others in New Zealand and the United States to organise an international billboard campaign hoping to draw attention to their disease which lacks funding.
The tagline “An ad you can’t miss, for a cancer you do” will appear on the iconic Piccadilly Lights in central London and Times Square billboards to mark World Ovarian Cancer Day, today, May 8, as well as over 350 billboard sites across the UK.
UK co-organiser Katie Wilkins was diagnosed last year at 38-years-old. Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cause of female cancer in the UK, but Katie says her diagnosis came as a shock.
“I was a ‘healthy’ young woman, and never thought for one minute I’d have cancer. I get asked a lot if it was picked up during a routine smear test – but that only checks for cervical cancer. Like so many people I didn’t really know anything about it.”
The campaign creative, donated by creative and digital agency Topham Guerin, features over 30 women, all diagnosed with a variant of ovarian cancer called low grade serous – like Katie. Low grade doesn’t imply good outcomes. These women are frequently young, and fewer than half will be alive nine years after diagnosis.
It’s a difficult reality to be faced with. But instead of living their lives in fear – the women are speaking out in the hope their efforts will help more people survive.
Katie says: “Our message is simple. We want women of all ages to be aware of the subtle symptoms of ovarian cancer which can easily be missed and dismissed. And we want more research, so women with our cancer live longer.”
It speaks to the urgency of the situation that women with cancer have gone to such extremes to be heard. They hope their efforts will raise more awareness of ovarian cancer and lead to donations through global research charity Cure Our Ovarian Cancer to support researchers at the University of Edinburgh specialising in their younger women’s ovarian cancer.
The Piccadilly Lights are owned by Landsec which has donated its screen space.
The billboards go live today, May 8. In Piccadilly Circus, London, it will display for ten continuous minutes from 2pm to 2:10pm; and in New York Times Square the ad will run on rotation for 24 hours.