Viral campaign hopes to raise money, awareness for bladder cancer

Bladder Cancer Canada chair Ferg Devins is hoping the #sourfaceselfie campaign will raise awareness around a growing disease. @FergDevins

A Canadian cancer advocacy group is hoping to raise awareness for bladder cancer through a unique visual campaign on social media.

Bladder Cancer Canada kicked off its #sourfaceselfie awareness campaign earlier in May and is hoping to carry it on through the summer by asking supporters to suck on a lemon for a good cause.

The initiative is spearheaded by longtime Toronto sportscaster Jim Van Horne, who himself is a bladder cancer survivor.

Ten years ago, Van Horne noticed blood in his urine and discovered the disease after a visit to a hospital.

READ MORE: New study finds ‘strikingly high’ rates of cancer in some Ontario industrial cities

“It was a shock, to say the least, when I woke up one morning at six, went to the washroom, looked down and saw a bottle of ketchup in the toilet bowl,” said Van Horne. “It was a real wakeup. I immediately went to the hospital, thinking I had an infection, and it turned out I had four massive tumours in my bladder that were malignant and had to be removed immediately.”

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LISTEN: Sportscaster Jim Van Horne talks to Global News Radio’s Bill Kelly about his battle with bladder cancer


Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in Canada, affecting an estimated 80,000 Canadians. Nearly 9,000 more are expected to be diagnosed this year alone.

“The warning signs of bladder cancer are really easy to spot and shouldn’t be ignored — early detection could save your life,” said Ferg Devins, chair of Bladder Cancer Canada. “That’s what #sourfaceselfie is all about. Canadians need to know what to look for, and we’re hoping this campaign can help get the message out in an easy-to-understand, lighthearted and fun way. We can’t wait to see those #sourfaceselfies all over social media this summer!”

READ MORE: Nearly 9,000 Canadians are diagnosed with bladder cancer every year. Here’s what you need to know

The #sourfaceselfie awareness campaign is asking participants to show off a sour face by sucking on a piece of lemon until it’s too hard to handle then snapping a selfie of their face and posting it using the hashtag.

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Participants can then donate to Bladder Cancer Canada at

The initial monetary goal is set for $10,000, with the primary aim of the campaign to raise awareness of the affliction and spur on those potentially affected to see a doctor.

The #sourfaceselfie campaign runs until Bladder Cancer Canada’s countrywide Awareness Walk on Sept. 22, 2019.

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