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By: Adesoji Adetona
”Cancer journey is like passing through the valley of shadow of death. As a survivor, I appreciate that life is worth living. My deepest gratitude to my darling, Aketi (Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu). Always there for me through thick and thin.
“Always loving me, no matter the circumstances. Congratulations to all cancer survivors in Nigeria and beyond. We are increasingly proving that Cancer is not a death sentence. We are still standing! I am a Proud 23 year Breast Cancer Survivor and still counting”, said by Chief (Mrs) Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu (Ondo State First Lady).
With the above quotation on the occasion of the National Cancer Survivors Day, NCSD, celebrated globally yesterday, survivors of breast cancer disease in Ondo state have come out to express their gratitude to the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, BRECAN, for giving them hope of living.
This is just as a Consultant Surgeon at Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Dr Aba Katung, tasked government at all levels to create employment opportunities for cancer survivors to boost their financial status to enhance their treatment.
At a small interactive press conference held at Ijapo Akure yesterday to mark Breast Cancer Survivors in the state organized by BRECAN, different speakers at the event further encouraged Nigerians that the disease is treatable if detected early.
The leader of the Team Survivor Nigeria, TSN, Mrs Funmilayo Oluwagbamila, said they were the evidence of God’s faithfulness and goodness, noting that God used BRECAN as their Messiah.
She thanked the founder of BRECAN for the opportunities they received through BRECAN’S initiative of bringing them together under TSN.
She affirmed that BRECAN had really provided them financial succour, adding that acceptance of diagnosis is the first stage of survivorship, which BRECAN had been preaching.
She affirmed that many women had benefitted from the CROWDFUNDING initiative of BRECAN and appealed to Ondo state people to continue to donate to this cause.
Mrs. Oluwagbamila explained that she was hopeless before meeting BRECAN, but that through the crowd fund initiative, they were given money for chemotherapy and found another family in Team Survivor Nigeria.
She appealed to the government to provide medical facility for the younger victims of cancers to afford them opportunity to produce offsprings while undergoing cancer treatment.
Mrs. Cecelia Esho, a survivor of six years, said she was so depressed having being diagnosed with the disease, despite being a retired nurse.
She said it really affected her family, but later got the support of her husband. She thanked Mrs Akeredolu who came out with awareness campaign, noting that through BRECAN, she was assisted to get her gratuity timely and was able to afford treatment. She added BRECAN had nominated her to attend international seminars relating to cancer.
Also testifying, Mrs. Kehinde Oluwabunmi, a 10 year old survivor, said she was able to survive because she accepted the diagnosis and treatment with faith, and advised every individual to do same. “I thank BRECAN, God has been using them for me, I’m one of the beneficiaries of the crowd funding money”.
Mrs. Elizabeth Akande on her part, who disclosed that her husband abandoned her when she was diagnosed with the disease, commended BRECAN for coming to her rescue by providing financial help to access adequate medical treatment.
Addressing the survivors, who were Representatives of survivors’ groups across the state, the BRECAN Chairman, Dr. Toyin Ayimoro said the day was set aside to celebrate those who fall victims of the deadly disease and to serve as inspiration to those recently diagnosed.
He added that the National Cancer Survivors day was set aside to raise support for their families, and also to let the victims know that they can still live a fruitful life after diagnosis.
Ayimoro, who was represented by his Vice, Dr. Johnson Olaniyi noted that the organization is a non-profit one, with the mission to eliminate breast cancer as a life threatening disease in Nigeria through advocacy, patient support and research.
He said: ”BRECAN has succeeded in reducing the ignorance associated with the causes and treatment of breast cancer through aggressive public education and enlightenment; the activities of BRECAN has made BRECAN centre a Mecca for individuals suffering from breast cancer to seek financial support for their treatment.
”The founder, in her ingenuity, incubated and hatched the idea of CROWD FUNDING as an instrument to raise funds and support the treatment of women with breast cancer in Ondo State. Since the birth of CROWDFUNDING initiative in Ondo State, many women have benefitted after appropriate evaluation by seasoned Consultant General Surgeon.”
On his part, the Cancer Consultant Surgeon, Dr Aba Katung, commended efforts of BRECAN in partnering the hospital to provide adequate and prompt treatment for victims.
He noted that most organizations have not been able to beat BRECAN’s strategy of supporting victims through the crowd funding initiative.
Addressing the issue of cancer survivorship, Dr. Katung who is also the state chairman of Coalition Against Cancer in Nigeria, CACIN, noted that there was an initial denial of diagnosis which was one of the reasons some died of the disease.
He noted that myth also contributed to why people died, saying cancer is not a death sentence.
Earlier in her comment to the survivors through social media platforms, the BRECAN’S founder and wife of Ondo state governor, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu commended those men who stood by their wives during the breast cancer crisis.
Mrs. Akeredolu, a breast cancer survivor of 23 year-old founded BRECAN in 1997. She said: ” A shout out to all husbands who stood by their wives through the cancer journey. Your support, without any equivocation, smoothened the road to recovery. Many thanks.
Every first Sunday of June is a National Cancer Survivors Day to demonstrate that life after a cancer diagnosis can be a reality. This day is a United States of America’s observance announced at the second national conference meeting of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship in New Mexico on November, 20 1987.