Cancer Survivors’ Day is an annual worldwide celebration of life that is held each year on the first Sunday in June. It is the one day each year when people around the world join together to honor cancer survivors. Today, Sunday, June 5, 2016, is Cancer Survivor’s Day 2016 and we all at Project PINK BLUE gladly celebrate cancer survivors in Nigeria, Africa and all over the world.
Cancer is not just a disease; it is a burden that when it befalls any individual, it’s impacts on everyone around the individual. Cancer has defined with different pathetic axioms in Nigeria due to the severe pain, lost and low survival rate. So many families have spent millions of naira on relations who were diagnosed with cancer, but painfully after spending the millions they possibly lost the relation. The above narrative explains why so many people feel very bad when the word “cancer” is mentioned around them. It brings back memory of lost, lost and gross lost. The pain is so terrible that sometimes caregivers feel helpless.
In Nigeria, cancer is responsible for 3% of total mortality, leading to 72,000 deaths per annum. This number is set to increase given that there are 102,000 new cases of cancer every year. The mortality incidence ratio for liver cancer is 0.97 (97%) while cervical cancer is 0.58 (58%) and breast cancer is 0.51 (51%). Liver cancer is the second leading cancer death in Nigeria and it is associated with viral hepatitis, which is virtually unknown to the general public, including some fractions of health-care providers. Complications of viral hepatitis infections such as cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and liver failure associated with liver cancer affect mostly people at their prime of life. Epidemiological study reveals that 1 in every 8 persons in Nigeria is living with viral Hepatitis and about 22 million Nigerians are estimated to be infected with either HBV or HCV. 90-95% of Mother to Child Transmission of viral hepatitis ends in chronic hepatitis and in the absence of treatment, 15 – 40% of persons living with viral hepatitis will develop liver cirrhosis and/or liver cancer.
Incidence of cancer has been increasing in most regions of the world, but there are huge inequalities between rich and poor countries. Incidence rates remain highest in more developed regions, but mortality is relatively much higher in less developed countries due to a lack of early detection and access to treatment facilities. For example, in Western Europe, breast cancer incidence has reached more than 90 new cases per 100 000 women annually, compared with 30 per 100 000 in eastern Africa. In contrast, breast cancer mortality rates in these two regions are almost identical, at about 15 per 100 000, which clearly points to a later diagnosis and much poorer survival in eastern Africa (WHO/IARC 2013).
The above statement from WHO gave two reasons for higher cancer death/lower survival rate in Nigeria. It is on this premise that we are using this special day to deepen our advocacies and campaigns urging the Nigerian government to make cancer control a national health priority issue and set-up appropriate agency for cancer control. More Nigerians are dying of cancer because they cannot afford cancer, with an agency on cancer control, pharmaceutical companies can be persuaded to reduce the cost of chemotherapy. More cancer patients are absconding from cancer care due to the frustration they face, waiting for days to receive care, sometimes the radiotherapy machine breaks down for weeks; sometimes women have travel from Enugu to Ibadan, on getting to Ibadan, the Ibadan machine is down; they leave Ibadan to Abuja, then Zaria, later Sokoto. People crisscross Nigeria for cancer treatment battling accommodation and transportation issues as well as their illness. The above challenges have triggered comments like “only wealthy Nigerians survive cancer”. Today, United States celebrates 14.5 million people living with cancer and beyond cancer, how many cancer survivors are celebrating?
Project PINK BLUE proudly works with one male breast cancer survivor and three female breast cancer survivors. We celebrate them and we are also aware that they are so many other cancer survivors across Nigeria doing amazingly fine. They profess that they are alive today because their cancers were detected early and they took actions to save their lives. We honour, love and respect them! Honour a survivor today by going for screenings because early detection saves lives.
As the number of cancer survivors continues to grow globally, it is becoming ever more important to address the unique needs of these survivors. Many face stigma, limited access to healthcare specialists, a lack of information about promising new treatments, inadequate or no insurance, difficulty finding employment, and psychosocial struggles. Once active treatment ends, cancer survivors still must cope with the long-term effects of cancer, which can include ongoing physical side effects as well as potentially devastating financial setbacks.
Join us today and show LOVE to cancer survivors, we at Project PINK BLUE call them champions!
If you know any Cancer Survivors, or have lost any relations to cancer,
Please: Like, Share, Tag a friend, and comment. Let’s celebrate this cancer champions!
There is hope!
Runcie C.W. Chidebe
Executive Director
Project PINK BLUE, Abuja, Nigeria.
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