I have a feeling that unless you’re a Canadian living with an inflammatory bowel disease, you had no idea that November is IBD Awareness month in Canada. It’s not your fault. It’s poorly publicized campaign.
Let me clarify one thing before we go any further. I have an immense appreciation for the work of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada. The CCFC’s website is where I first turned for information when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. The proceeds from my book’s sales have gone and will continue to go to the CCFC. It’s a charity that I obviously have an inherent interest in. I’m also grateful for organizations such as Gut Inspired, which promotes IBD awareness not only during the month of November, but all year long.
Pink and hairy
October is hands down the worst month to promote anything health- or charity-related because no cause, not even blind puppies with AIDS, will ever be able to compete for attention with the pink pandemonium that is breast cancer awareness month. Strategically, it would be fruitless to endorse IBD awareness in October, but the month that follows is no easier.
November is now a month associated with hideous facial hair, thanks to the Movember campaign. The merits of the movement, created to raise awareness of men’s health issues with a focus on prostate cancer, have been subject to debate. Personally, I think it’s a little gimmicky and I wonder just how many men seriously rethink their health – prostate or otherwise – as a result of some fuzzy upper lips. Ultimately though, it raises money for valuable causes, so good on the folks who participate.
More causes, more I say!
According to Health Canada, November is also Amaryllis Month, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Awareness Month, Diabetes Month, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and National Eczema Awareness Month.
But wait, there’s more!
November is also home to Canadian Patient Safety Week, National Pain Awareness Week, Family Doctor Week, National Seniors Safety Week, National Addictions Awareness Week, National Home Fire Safety Week, World Pneumonia Day, World Diabetes Day, World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day, National Child Day, and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
If a cause is going to stake its claim in the public’s psyche, as Crohn’s and colitis are yet to do, it has to be widely publicized, and news outlets are route one to accomplishing that goal. But how do you garner serious attention amidst all of the other causes listed above? I don’t know if you can. How many news outlets will pick up a story on Crohn’s or colitis when they’re inundated with press releases from all of the causes noted above? Not to mention the fact that there are other newsworthy items to report – Remembrance Day, Typhoon Haiyan, the anniversary of JFK’s assassination, Black Friday, Rob Ford’s general idiocy, etc.
In all the news I’ve read and watched this month, I haven’t come across a single piece from a Canadian media outlet on IBDs. Maybe I haven’t been looking for them closely enough, but that’s the problem. People shouldn’t have to search for stories on IBDs, especially during IBD Awareness Month. They should have them presented to them as part of a newscast or newspaper. Here! Look! These are people with IBDs and their lives have been fucked and you should care about them!
The month of May
World IBD is May 19. Why not turn May into Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month in Canada? That way, it will coincide with the global day of IBD awareness, and it will provide an excellent opportunity to garner donations for the CCFC’s annual hallmark fundraiser, the Gutsy Walk, which takes place in June.
Granted, IBDs would still be competing against a myriad of other diseases that also have their awareness month in May – Celiac Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, and Multiple Sclerosis, just to name a few. I still think the CCFC would have a better chance of gaining attention, and all-important funding, in May than they would in November. I feel as though people aren’t in a giving mood in November considering that they’ve just been subjected to a flurry of pink ribbons (and products) in October, are in the midst of receiving pledge solicitations for Movember, and are thinking ahead to their Christmas shopping budget.
Going one step further, I’d like to see Crohn’s and colitis charities the world over create a more concerted effort to raise awareness. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America promotes an IBD Awareness Week for the first week of December. Just a week? What the hell, America? I thought you did things big. Crohn’s and Colitis Australia is on the right page, with their IBD Awareness month taking place in May. Let’s all get in on that. Let’s have Crohn’s and colitis groups from around the world resolve to make May IBD Awareness Month in their respective countries.
November’s a shitty month anyway.
Image via Carole Knits