On Thursday April 3rd town and gown will come together for St Andrews’ Cancer Awareness Day. Stuart McMillan gets the full story.

This year St Andrews will play host to the first ever St Andrews’ Cancer Awareness Day. Organised by the University of St Andrews’ Cop-a-Feel Society, Macmillan Cancer Society and headed by Fourth Year Sarah Engstrand, the event is an opportunity for the entire community to get together to talk about and, most importantly, help people through, the issues surrounding dealing with cancer.

‘The community as a whole, I never thought of it as “Uni” and “town”,’ Sarah says to me of who she wanted to get involved in the Cancer Awareness Day. She tells me that over 300,000 people in the UK each year are diagnosed with cancer. The initial concept of the St Andrews’ Cancer Awareness Day, to be held this Thursday April 3rd, came from her Mother, who sadly passed away from cancer on that date last year. ‘I spoke to my Mom about it,’ she says, to whom she told her belief in the importance of organising a day where people could come together to raise awareness of those either battling, or who know someone battling, cancer. ‘It’s often difficult to talk to people, it’s hard to put emotional stress on someone [when talking about cancer]’ Sarah says. This event is an attempt to allow people who know someone with cancer, or who might be going through cancer themselves, to talk to each other and ensure them that ‘they’re not alone, not the only ones in the situation.’

The organisers of the Cancer Awareness Day will be selling tartan ribbons, which not only publicise the event, but also serve as emblems of solidarity and an awareness of those who know people who have, or themselves have cancer. ‘[The tartan is] a St Andrews thing, quite Scottish. And tartan is actually in this season,’ Sarah assures me.

The team are hosting a Pub Quiz tonight in the Rule at 9pm to kick things off, with various events planned throughout the week in the run up to Thursday. On Tuesday night they will be speaking about the event in various halls, and on Thursday they will host a Bake Sale to raise money for the cause. Ribbon and raffle tickets are on sale all week, the sales of which Sarah intends to use to fund vouchers for petrol and groceries for the families of cancer sufferers. ‘Even things like vouchers for meals out [are important], because cooking and the small things like that become quite hard,’ she says.

When I ask her if there’s anything in particular she wants to say that I haven’t already asked her, Sarah says that she only wants to let people know how thankful she is. ‘I’m incredibly grateful for the support we’ve had from the community, donations of whiskey, fudge, parents have been in contact asking what they can do. It’s been overwhelming. So many gratefuls,’ Sarah says of the great support she has been given in organising the St Andrews Cancer Awareness Day. With all of this said, many of us might be wondering why St Andrews hasn’t come up with this idea sooner. The team are asking everybody in St Andrews to do all they can to help them raise awareness of cancer, and make it easier for those who are or have someone close to them who is suffering with the disease. With support like this, it’s no reason why they can’t pull it off, and there is no reason why St Andrews Cancer Awareness Day couldn’t become another stalwart in the University calendar. There is certainly no reason why it shouldn’t.

St Andrews Cancer Awareness Day takes place on Thursday 3rd April with events throughout the week. For more information click here.


Stuart McMillan


Image Credits: Sarah Engstrand