October 28, 2013

World Conference on Lung Cancer opening highlights hope

The 15th World Conference on Lung Cancer opened in Sydney with messages of hope and an acknowledgement of the challenges still to be faced.

The premier international event which involves more than 5000 doctors, patients, nurses, scientist and people interested in lung cancer was officially opened with a plenary session at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Lung Cancer survivor Mike Hyde shared his story with the crowd while former Australian Health Minister and Attorney General, Nicola Roxon, told the crowd it was possible to take on the tobacco companies and win.

Ms Roxon was at the helm as Health Minister when the Federal Government introduced plain packaging and was the country’s Attorney General when the tobacco companies tried to have the legislation overturned in the High Court.

Ms Roxon said the government had done their research and were prepared for the battles ahead.

“Huge initial effort went into trying to frighten us off acting – to make us change our mind, even after we announced the policy,” Ms Roxon said.

“Ultimately the millions of dollars the tobacco industry poured into devious campaigns did nothing to sway public from its solid support for plain packaging and, if anything, simply served to emphasise Big Tobacco’s long-term lack of credibility,” she said.  

Ms Roxon said governments, NGOs, clinicians, researchers and public health advocates needed to work across boundaries and combine their strengths.

“It is imperative we recognise tobacco as one of the leading global public challenges of our generation,” she said.

There was a strong focus on patients and their families in the lead up to the official start of the World Conference.

On Saturday night, Lung Foundation Australia hosted a moving Shine a Light on Lung Cancer vigil at Palm Grove on Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

This special ceremony remembered those who had been taken from us by lung cancer as well as celebrating those who had survived or were still living with their cancer.

Sunday saw a highly successful internal patients and consumers forum bringing together speakers from around the world to share their stories and insights into what is truly a global issue.