50 years ago, we began our work to help all Queenslanders affected by cancer, rallying community support in the fight against cancer.
Today, our work continues, inspired by our vision for a cancer free Queensland.
To find out more about our achievements, click on the buttons below and explore our historical timeline, check out our photo gallery or read about some of the people that have made our work possible during the past 50 years.
Think back 50 years, if you were alive then. You might recall that life expectancy was increasing, but so was the incidence of cancer, a disease not well understood and difficult to treat.
Many feared cancer more than any other disease, knowing that the fight for survival could be an unpredictable and agonising game of chance. Many endured their diagnosis alone, too afraid to tell loved ones and friends that they had ‘the big C’.
We have come a long way in 50 years.
Today, our fight against cancer is one of hope, inspired by the rapid progress of research and characterised by strong support for cancer patients. Today, cancer patients are much less likely to suffer the indignity, anxiety, and distress of being stigmatized.
We are with them every step of the way.
With community donations and support from volunteers and friends, these are some of the things we've achieved over the past 50 years:
Slip, Slop, Slap
In 1981 we launched one of the most successful health campaigns in Queensland’s history, the Slip, Slop, Slap campaign. The campaign featured Sid the Seagull, wearing board shorts, a t-shirt and a hat, tap-dancing his way across TV screens singing a catchy jingle reminding Queenslanders to be SunSmart. Over the past two decades, the campaign has been pivotal in dramatically improving sun protection attitudes and behaviour in Queensland.
Over many decades Cancer Council Queensland has led anti-tobacco advocacy in Queensland, urging the creation of tobacco control laws and social marketing programs that have significantly reduced the prevalence of smoking in Queensland and reduced illness and deaths from tobacco-related disease. The outcomes of our endeavours include the creation of smoke-free pubs and clubs, bans on smoking in cars carrying children, and most recently a ban on retail display of cigarettes.
Establishment of the Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control
In 2004, Cancer Council Queensland established the Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control to undertake epidemiological and psycho-oncological research into cancer in Queensland. Today, it is one of a few research institutions in Queensland and Australia to conduct collaborative research and translate findings into outcomes that can be fully integrated with cancer services. The pioneering work of the VCRCC includes a Prostate Cancer Research Program with one of the world’s largest international trials to improve quality of life for couples and men affected by prostate cancer.
Mobile mammography screening
In 1988, Cancer Council Queensland helped to fund Queensland’s first two mobile mammography units to promote the early detection of breast cancer, providing volunteers to help operate both units. The mobile screening service proved tremendously effective, and helped to pave the way for the population screening program we have today.
Charles Wanstall Apex Lodge
In 1982, the Charles Wanstall Apex Lodge was officially opened in Brisbane, to provide accommodation for regional cancer patients receiving treatment in Brisbane. Since then, the Lodge has served tens of thousands of cancer patients, and Cancer Council Queensland has opened similar patient facilities in Townsville and Rockhampton, with plans for new accommodation and support centres in Cairns and Toowoomba. In October last year we also opened our new $8 million Palliative Care Centre in Townsville, the largest single capital works investment in the organisation’s history. Since its opening, over 100 terminally ill cancer patients have stayed in the centre and received a world-class standard of care.
Patient assistance programs
In 1975, Cancer Council Queensland established a Mastectomy Rehabilitation Service to provide women affected by breast cancer with practical and emotional support. Since then, we have developed a variety of patient assistance programs to ensure that Queenslanders affected by cancer don’t have to go through cancer alone. Today, the service has evolved into our Breast Cancer Support Service and we reach out to all Queenslanders affected by cancer through our Cancer Council Helpline, providing information, support, and referral to a range of specialised services that help to address the distress that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis.
Funding for cancer treatment services
In 1964, the Queensland Cancer Fund entered into a joint venture with the Queensland Government to provide Queensland with its second linear accelerator and a simulator for use in planning patient treatment. Before long, it was evident that another linear accelerator was needed, and in 1970 the Fund paid half the cost of a third machine, which was delivered in 1974. The Fund went on to provide $400,000 for a more expensive and advanced electron-source model machine and the infrastructure to support it ($400,000 was a significant sum at the time and the greatest single commitment the Fund had made). This advanced radiation therapy machine was commissioned in 1979 and provided the most sophisticated and effective radiation therapy available in Queensland at the time.
These are just some of the initiatives that have characterised our 50 year history.
Our achievements and progress are thanks to your support, and the support of many thousands of dedicated Queenslanders who believe, like we do, that a cancer free future is possible.
As part of our 50 year anniversary celebrations, we would like to honour and thank Queenslanders who have made a contribution to cancer control.
Thank you for helping us to create hope for a cancer free future. With your ongoing support, the next 50 years of cancer control in Queensland promises to be equally progressive.
With continuing dedication to research, prevention, early detection, and support, there is every possibility that we can significantly reduce cancer incidence and mortality in our lifetime.
Thank you once more for believing that a cancer free future is worth fighting for.