Two Families, Twelve Models, One Mission: De-stigmatizing Anal Cancer

The Behind Cancer Campaign

Two families, twelve models, one mission: de-stigmatizing anal cancer.

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The De Nardos and the Almadas are two families whose lives were changed by anal cancer. Inspired by their personal struggles to cope and care for a parent suffering from the disease, the two families have teamed up to deliver the 2013 Behind Cancer Campaign. The Campaign’s aims are to raise awareness for anal cancer and to publicize the establishment of the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation in the UK.

In May 2008, Justine, Tristan, and Camille Almada learned that their fit and healthy mother, Paulette Crowther, then aged 51, was diagnosed with Stage IV anal cancer. In June 2010, Ellie De Nardo learned that her fit and healthy mother, Jill De Nardo, also aged 51 at the time, was diagnosed with Stage II anal cancer. Both Paulette and Jill were too embarrassed to share their diagnoses with all but their closest circle of loved ones.

The stigma surrounding anal cancer remains one of the central challenges to improving outcomes for anal cancer patients. Shame and social isolation are frequent amongst anal cancer patients, primarily due to misconceptions and ignorance about the cause and transmission of the disease. HPV causes over 90% of anal cancer.  HPV is incredibly common, however: over 80% of sexually active people are exposed to it at some point in their lives in the UK. The limited awareness extends deep into the clinical and scientific community. Misdiagnosis of anal cancer is common, and too often, patients find out about their disease once it has developed from its precancerous, more easily-treatable stages. The disease can lack a critical mass of patients necessary to build a greater evidence-base for best medical practices (for example, the limited number of clinical trials).

In the face of such unfairness to those who suffer from anal disease, Ellie De Nardo and the Almada siblings arrived at the same conclusion: bring the conversation about anal cancer into the public domain.  Within months of her mother’s diagnosis, Ellie had persuaded eleven of her friends to pose for a nude calendar. The 2011 Calendar was an incredible success measured not only by the number of calendars sold and the amount of money raised, but also the public conversation that ensued in the UK.  Inspired by the success of the 2011 Calendar, Ellie decided to pursue the calendar once more. The timing of the 2013 Behind Cancer Campaign is perfect as it coincides with the launch of the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation in the UK.

Four children, who love their mothers dearly, are restless to make the world a better place. Please, help us to make a difference by spreading the word about the Behind Cancer Campaign and purchasing a calendar for 10GBP/$16USD.

The proceeds from sales of the calendar will go to the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation as well as the Christie, the cancer hospital where Jill De Nardo was treated.

Watch the Behind the Scenes Video

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