April is Canada’s Daffodil Month, a month about raising awareness for cancer all around. It is during this Daffodil Campaign that the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) and organizations brings Canadians together to commemorate and remember those who battled against cancer and acts as a reminder that the fight is far from over. It is an especially important month since it is something that resonates with almost every Canadian, with 1 in 2 Canadians bound to be diagnosed in their lifetime.
The Canadian Cancer Society and UBC Cancer Association utilizes the daffodil within their campaigning efforts to encourage individuals to view change in their lives as an opportunity for rebirth. The daffodil symbol holds a powerful and personal meaning to the nation as it symbolizes a message of hopefulness in the fight against cancer.
Originally, the flower itself was used ornamentally as decorations and as handouts in fundraising events from CCS Toronto volunteers in 1956. Eventually the group came up with a way to use the daffodil as a method to encourage donations, leading to daffodil days, an event that started in 1957. By selling daffodils during the springtime, they were able to raise $1,200.
But the daffodil in itself holds a special metaphoric meaning. Because of their resilient blooming as spring’s first flower, they are a sign of sunshine and new beginnings, regardless of the conditions. Their bright yellow color is a sign of hope, new beginnings, and optimism, perfectly fitting the aura of the ongoing and enthusiastic fight against cancer.
As the shining symbol of resilience, it suitably represents the CCS’s purpose in improving the quality of life of those affected by cancer and continuing to minimize its consequences.
Thus, the flower became a token in Canadian culture in representing a fight with a renewed sense of hope every year and acts as a constant reminder of what can be done to contribute to improving the life of those with cancer, which can start with involvement and awareness.
Since then, the campaign has grown, and Daffodil Days grew into a nationwide event, even spreading to organizations outside of Canada. In 2015 alone, Canada’s daffodil campaign raised over $16.5 million and the CCS raised $44 million. Furthermore, similar to RFL, a running/walking event called Daffodil Dash was born, as well as a community initiative to paint your workplace or school yellow, which all in all brought in over $250,000 that year.
The daffodil plant also contributed to funding. They are found throughout the country, and especially in warmer British Columbia, and became a way to make donations. Since 1965, the Canadian Pacific Railway continues to ship millions of daffodils for free to reach Canadians everywhere. This meant that they could be easily sold. Quebec sells a whopping two million blooms every year and has generated $30+ million since 1994 for the CCS. Additionally, the CCS is partnered with Loblaw Companies, and together have made over $500,000 from selling daffodils across the country, including Ontario, Atlantic Canada, B.C., the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
Other than buying the flower, wearing a daffodil pin, or volunteering during Daffodil Month is intended to be an act of solidarity and participation. Becoming involved helps fund research to combat against cancer and supports Canadians living with cancer right now. It is this scientific research that finds new solutions and technology for improved treatments and solutions to help all kinds of cancer patients. Through funding, CCS has received $1.4 billion since 1957 that were aimed at funding “critical cancer research, education and advocacy.”
A few of the scientific breakthroughs that were supported by this funding includes Dr. Robert Noble and Dr. Charles Beer’s discovery of a drug called vinblastine in 1958 that has largely improved the results and the lives of children diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. In the early 1990s, Dr. Eduardo Franco became known for contributing to finding the connection between the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and how it causes cervical cancer, which impressively led to the development of the HPV vaccine to combat this impact. In 2011, the drug exemestane was found to drastically reduce the risk of breast cancer by 65%, discovered within a clinical trial of four sisters from Manitoba.
Daffodil Month is a month that is more than being aware of what one can do, but also being aware of themselves and that because cancer is a leading cause of death in the country, knowing the facts and what to look for can save one’s own life. Having better general knowledge means knowing how to deal with a situation related to cancer.
Regardless of the pandemic, there are many ways to be involved and partake in the cause this year. For example, donating to the CCS to fund and support current patients (and to their COVID Emergency Fund) – which will also earn you a virtual daffodil badge. Organizing an online fundraiser through the CCS’s website, or simply being involved in a virtual event in your community such as UBCCA’s Daffodil Dash, which will continue until the end of the month. Simply educating yourself with the right resources, including CCS’s website as well as UBCCA’s many informative pages such as Cancer Decoded, our social media and blog posts.
So, with the bright daffodils blooming across Vancouver, let it be a reminder of this month, and of the continued fight to support those experiencing cancer as well as an encouraging symbol for creating a cancer-free future.