What is Cancer Advocacy?

Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group which aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions. Health Advocacy supports and promotes patients’ health care rights, and enhances community health and policy initiatives that focus on the availability, safety and quality of care. The Cancer Alliance has adopted a human- rights based approach to cancer care that acknowledges that access to services is a matter of social justice, and gives voice to the voiceless.

To be the voice for those who have either been robbed completely of theirs or who aren’t equipped with the resources to raise them.
To give voice to problems and issues that are ignored, unknown or deliberately hidden from public hearing.
To equip and empower the voiceless to raise their voices in a way they will be heard.

To enable the voices being raised to be heard, then listened to – and acted upon.

Conceptually, advocacy fits into a range of activities that include organizing, lobbying, and campaigning.
Organizing is a broad-based activity designed to ensure that the views represented in advocacy come from those who are actually affected by the issue.

Lobbying derives from the Latin word ‘loggia’, a room where one would meet directly with decision-makers to engage in (often private) quality discussions and debate.
Compared to organizing, lobbying takes a more targeted approach and reaches out to fewer people. On the other end of the spectrum, the Latin origin for campaigning is ‘campus’, the wider battlefield.
An advocacy campaign publicly promotes an agenda, involving platforms where a wide audience can hear the advocate’s message.”

UNICEF defines advocacy to mean: ‘to call to one’s aid’ or ‘to speak out on behalf of someone.’*


The Cancer Alliance’s new #HeadsUpForCancer campaign is set to target farmers and farmworkers, the community behind one of South Africa’s leading economies but which has been routinely neglected in terms of cancer awareness and care.

Knowledge is critical to risk reduction and addressing the warning signs of early cancer symptoms, and the new advocacy toolkit that is central to the campaign aims to provide this essential education to empower people living and working in farming communities.

The South African agricultural sector represents nearly 70% of the country’s available land, yet the Cancer Alliance recognises that this captive community has enjoyed limited access to information and awareness campaigns thanks to proximity and language constraints.

In adults, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and kills more people than HIV/AIDS/TB and malaria. The disease is also on the increase in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), largely due to knowledge about risk reduction and the warning signs of early symptoms. For children however, cancer is a rare disease and to improve the survival rate, more children with cancer need to be diagnosed at early stages and treated by a paediatric oncologists.

“The campaign toolkit is focused on providing important information on some of the most common cancers affecting all South Africans, including skin, prostate, breast, cervical and childhood cancers, along with information on responsible farming,” Cancer Alliance’s Project Manager, Salomé Meyer said.

She added that the toolkit was made possible thanks to funding from global animal health company ZOETIS, and that the Alliance is seeking further support to translate the information into other official languages in order to widen the impact.

“We decided to plough the ZOETIS funding back to the farming community as part of our responsibility towards our partners,” Meyer explained, adding that the #HeadsUpForCancer campaign hopes to connect stakeholders in the farming community, while educating their friends, families and co-workers in order to save lives. It is also an example of true collaboration between like-minded cancer non-profit organisations.

What is

A campaign that helps SA’s farmers and farm workers see the warning signs of cancer to help each other catch it early

Why did we launch this campaign?

Community is the best place to help spot cancer signs – and we want to encourage that. We drive awareness about cancer and what to do if you feel at risk.


We’ve produced six info-based slides on cancer and responsible farming. They will be shared one slide per month following this schedule:

  • Prostate – September
  • Breast – October 
  • Responsible farming – November


  • Skin – December
  • Cervical – January
  • Childhood cancer – February



Don’t keep your head in the sand! Know the signs of cancer – and what to do if you catch them.

Working outside puts farmers and farm
workers at risk for skin cancer. Help each
other spot the signs with these tips.

Did you know: More men in SA are diagnosed with breast cancer than anywhere else.
We can change that together.

If you see something, say something! Know
the warning signs of cancer – and say when
you see them.

When it comes to cancer, our farming
community can save each other’s lives!
#HeadsUpForCancer #CancerAlliance


By spreading awareness about cancer, we can make a difference. Help spread the word by sharing our campaign each month:

  • On your website
  • In your newsletter 
  • On social media

We want YOUR story!

Has cancer affected you or your friends, family or colleagues? Share your story online with #HeadsUpForCancer or email us at: info@canceralliance.org.za.