In August 2014, our family lost a very special person – wife, mother, nana, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin and friend – Rochelle Goulburn. She underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer for a staggering 16 months.
Just two months later, in October 2014, our family founded #PurpleOurWorld, three weeks before the inaugural World Pancreatic Cancer Day (WPCD).
From the date of Rochelle’s diagnosis and throughout her treatment, as her husband, daughters and sisters, we found that there was very little support for, and awareness of, pancreatic cancer.
So, we decided to do something about it, in the hopes that people going through what we went through don’t feel alone.
We decided we had to get the world talking about pancreatic cancer.
We decided to purple our world.
Our mission is simple: get everyone we could reach to wear something purple and share a picture on social media using our hashtag, #PurpleOurWorld.
In 2014, our overwhelming success proved the power of social media. With only three weeks and a shareable message, we were amazed by how many people took part. Our message went global, and many Australian well-known personalities re-tweeted, shared on Facebook and posted on Instagram.
For 2015, we decided we had to take #PurpleOurWorld to the next level.
We began talks with journalist Tracey Spicer and NRL legend Robbie Farah, both of whom lost their mothers to the disease. Both came on board as #PurpleOurWorld ambassadors.
We partnered with four charities who are doing amazing things in the pancreatic cancer space:
- Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation
- Garvan Research Foundation
- GI Cancer Institute
- Pancare Foundation
Together with our strategic partners and Cancer Australia, we formed the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Alliance, a collaborative voice raising awareness of pancreatic cancer in Australia with a long-term view of increasing donor funds to support research.
And then, we truly took our message global, joining 54 organisations from around the world in Orlando, Florida to launch the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition. Currently, Jess from #PurpleOurWorld Chairs the World Pancreatic Cancer Day Committee, leading the committee that organises and coordinates the global approach to pancreatic cancer awareness.
Since 2016, we have had support from major corporate organisations around Austalia including Scentre Group, through their Westfield Shopping Centres, ANZ, Ramsay Health Care, Insurance Australia Group and Gelato Messina. Westfield also took the World Pancreatic Cancer Day message global, featuring messaging on screens throughout the USA and the UK.
One of our highlights so far, though, has been lighting up the sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House, together with the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Alliance. On the eve of WPCD 2017, the sails shined purple for pancreatic cancer.
We’re truly seeing now that the world is starting to listen and the scientific community is making big strides in the research and clinical trials space, and we’re very excited to be at the forefront of the movement!
Pop the date in your diaries – World Pancreatic Cancer Day occurs on the third Thursday of November every year.