The iconic Face Of Wigan statue has had a makeover to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer.
A new purple-coloured mask has been placed on the monument, which is located on Believe Square in Wigan town centre, as November is Pancreatic Cancer Month.
It was unveiled yesterday by Robert Armstong, chairman of Wrightington. Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL), the Mayor of Wigan, Coun Bill Clarke, and Donna Hall, chief executive of Wigan Council, along with other representatives from both organisations.
Mr Armstrong said: “The Face’s new mask is a great example of partnership working between the council and the trust to both raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and help Wigan patients be more aware of the services available to them.
“Because the council is so innovative and forward thinking, we want to work closely to really improve services for every citizen in the borough.
“But the most important thing is to get checked out if you suspect anything, don’t be a cancer chancer.”
World Pancreatic Cancer Day will be observed on Thursday, November 16 with a Turn It Purple campaign, calling for businesses and individuals to embrace the symbolic colour for the disease.
People are being encouraged to shine purple lights on buildings or other structures in the community, wear purple in the office, at home or at school, or donate to life-saving research.
It is hoped that more awareness and understanding about the illness will allow more people to be diagnosed in time for surgery – currently the only potential for a cure.
Ms Hall said: “Pancreatic cancer is not really talked about very often, but for those of us who have lost friends and family, it is the most devastating disease because it is so quick.
“We are lucky to have such a great hospital in Wigan where residents in the borough can go for a quick check if needed, so if you have any kind of symptoms do go and get checked out.”
Vicki Stevenson-Hornby, a Macmillan hepato-pancreato-billary clinical nurse specialist who works for WWL, said: “Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate of the 22 most common cancers, yet so many people do not know anything about the pancreas, or what it does, and are unaware of the early signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
“The Face’s new mask should raise a fantastic amount of awareness. The more people can know about pancreatic cancer, and the more they can be aware of early symptoms and by detecting pancreatic cancer earlier, the potential survival rate will significantly improve.”
According to charity Pancreatic Cancer Action, almost 10,000 people in the UK are newly diagnosed with the disease each year.
Symptoms can include painless jaundice, significant and unexplained weight loss, and abdominal pain or discomfort.
The cause is not known, but risk factors can include smoking, obesity, age, diabetes and chronic pancreatitis.
Anyone with concerns is urged to see their GP.
To find out more about pancreatic cancer and the Turn It Purple campaign, visit www.pancreaticcanceraction.org.