Fight To Beat Cancer
“I am dying. I’m not even scared to admit it anymore. With each passing day, I feel life gradually being snuffed out of me by the monster called cancer. However, I can’t show it because I have to be strong. For all these kids that surround me. We all have the same connection; some are cancer survivors, some are still in the fight against it, while a few others like me, have reassigned ourselves to the inevitable, trying as much as possible to share laughter and happiness with one another while awaiting our fate”.
“My mum lost the fight to cervical cancer when I was 13, leaving me with a trust fund that could take care of me for the rest of my life. The memories I have of my father are quite vague. When it was clear that my mum couldn’t make it, he ran away. They were never legally married anyways”.
“Eleven years after my mum died, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. What’s worse, the disease was detected when it had already reached an advanced stage. After all said and done, here I am, at 26 with a few months left on my clock. When it became clear that I wasn’t going to make it, I donated half of the money my mum left me with to organizations that focus on cancer victims. With the rest and nothing left to do but to make the most of the remaining time of my life, I built a recreation center for children affected with cancer, where we can all make the best of our lives, be carefree and forget the chemistries going on in our bodies”.
“Every day when I look at the children with their cleanly shaved heads, I wish I had super powers, to ensure that no one has to suffer cancer ever again” recounted Emily. Certainly, she is not alone in this fight.
Does Cancer affect anyone?
Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases characterized by the growth of abnormal cells beyond their usual boundaries that can then invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs. There are over 100 types of cancer and any part of the body can be affected. The disease, according to reports, can affect almost every part of the body and has many anatomic and molecular subtypes that each requires specific management strategies.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and accounted for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer. In Nigeria, cancer contributes to over 72,000 deaths per annum. This number is set to increase as there are over 102,000 new cases of cancer every year.
The most common types in men are lung; prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer while breast, colorectal, lung, cervix and stomach cancer are the most common among women.
A recent report has also revealed that breast cancer is one of the commonest forms of cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths in women in their prime while colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in Nigeria among men second to prostate and liver cancer, resulting in approximately 49,190 deaths in Nigeria, in 2016.
The World Cancer day being marked today should be a wakeup call to us all. Many of these deaths can be avoided. Between 30-50% of cancers are preventable by healthy lifestyle choices such as avoidance of tobacco and public health measures like immunization. Others can be detected early, treated, and cured.
Like Emily, my sincere wish is to see a cancer free world, and with government prioritizing investments in cancer treatment in the country, many who are affected with cancer will at least access treatment and care.
Amadi Ogechi Vinaprisca