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#HatsforHope: Raise awareness for brain tumours with a tuque and a smile

Do you have a favourite tuque? Keep it handy on Oct. 24 and prepare to smile.

It’s the first #HatsforHope campaign with the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, but it’s part of an longer effort to bring awareness to brain tumours, both malignant and benign.

“We estimate 27 Canadians a day hear they’ve got a brain tumour. Of those, eight will have cancer,” says Amy Mathias, an online community engagement associate with the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

But the real number might be worse: Those statistics are extrapolated from U.S. data, and according to international research, Canada has a higher incident of brain tumours than the U.S. Canada is in the process of setting up a brain tumour registry to get better information, she said.

Up until a few years ago, however, Ontario reported zero non-malignant brain tumours. “I personally know five,” Mathias says. Stats also suggest there are two-thirds as many non-cancerous tumours than those that are positive for cancer, but people diagnosed with non-malignant tumours often feel alone, even though they can be “just as devastating.”

October, traditionally, is nonstop pink in honour of breast cancer awareness month. This year, make sure the pink ribbon is on a tuque.

On October 24, the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada wants to shine a light on brain tumours of all kinds.

They’ve dreamed up a simple but fun way to raise awareness: Put on your favourite hat or tuque and take a selfie. Use #HatsforHope on your preferred social media platforms. That’s all it takes.

Oct. 20-27 is the 12th annual brain tumour awareness week. This will be Canada’s first Brain Cancer Awareness day. It comes one week after another momentous day: the anniversary of Gord Downie’s death, arguably one of the most visible brain cancer patients in the country.

As far as publicity stunts to raise awareness go, it’s a warmer, kinder and gentler event than others in the past, and that’s by design: “People are still talking about the ice bucket challenge. We certainly don’t want people putting ice on their heads in October,” Mathias says.

The hats should have meaning to the wearer, whether silly, funny, simple or extravagant. Some of the hats that will be used in the campaign have been made and donated by a woman named Melissa, who has been collecting and distributing knitted tuques to brain tumour survivors for years. The #HatsforHope campaign grows out of her idea and with her blessing, Mathias says.

So do your part: next Wednesday, grab a hat, grab your phone, take a selfie and use the #HatsforHope hashtag. If you’ve got a story behind your hat, tell it.

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

Amber Healy has 521 posts and counting. See all posts by Amber Healy

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