Funke Olaode writes about the passion of a lady who wants total eradication of cervical/breast cancer among women
Her bubbly appearance in red lycra gown did not depict a lady with a heavy heart. Lucia Ifechukwu Ikediashi is like many others who have lost relations or loved one to the dreaded disease, cancer. But for Lucy, the diseased hit her on the wrong side which she would not forget in a hurry or in a long time to come. It claimed her mum.
She didn't have to die! she exclaimed holding back her tears. And if my mum could wake up today, she would ask, did I do enough?
"Cervical cancer is not something you wish your enemy should have. The symptoms are not there. It can be in your body for 40 years and you can never know. Why don't we find an opportunity to have series of screening where we can checkmate this scary disease before it becomes full blown cancer where nothing can be done no matter how much you spent? I heard a lady had a cancer and some artistes were donating millions. Those monies cannot do anything for because I watch my mummy die of cervical cancer."
For Mrs. Grace Isioma Ikediashi, an indigene of Asaba in Delta State and mother of four, her end came in 2009 after a long battle with cervical cancer, which disguised for years. According to her daughter, wrong diagnosis played a key role "It was traumatic for me and my family," she said.
"The cancer disguised for years and we didn't know she had cancer. We didn't know what was wrong with her. She had been ill for a couple of months and fortunately she travelled abroad to look after my elder sister who had just put to bed. On getting there, my sister noticed that she had changed, she had lost a lot of weight and her health had deteriorated. She was taken straight to the hospital where they dropped the bombshell and disclosed that she was in her fourth stage of cervical cancer.
The doctors in London started asking if there were no doctors where this woman was coming from. We took her to some big names and big hospitals in Nigeria. They diagnosed wrongly. Some claimed she had fibroid, other said low blood pressure and another version said high blood pressure. It was one test in England, which is now available in Nigeria that revealed the whole thing, and by then it was late"
Throwing more light on her mum's last day, she continued: "By the time it was discovered that it was cervical cancer we couldn't treat her as the doctors just advised us to take her back to Nigeria to die. The symptoms were not there but we noticed she was losing blood from her private part but surprisingly she had reached menopause. Her skin was peeling and was looking pale. She couldn't eat, sleep and even go to the toilet. This was how bad it was. She was gnashing her teeth; she had lost almost all her teeth and was constantly in pain. But this doesn't happen until it has become full blown cancer. So for you to have cervical changes you would not feel anything because there are no symptoms.
"The memories of her last days still bring tears to my eyes because she was in pains. She just wanted to see all the children. She knew her end had come. She had made it right with God and just wanted to go. But she asked me one question: Lucy, are you going to let other women go through this? My daughter, do whatever it is you can to ensure that another woman does not die of this cervical cancer. Those were her last words as she closed her eyes gently."
Propelled by her mother's words, Lucia has been in the forefront campaigning against cervical/breast cancer both at home and abroad.
Recently, she staged a cervical/breast cancer campaign and screening through a Halloween party which held in Victoria Island, Lagos. At the party, people could come and have fun, listen to music and get tested.
"We have had a lot of couple of outings especially outside the country. We have done series of launches for magazines, we have been involved with another concerts including the African Unplugged that took place in London. And now we are in Nigeria to make a difference, doing things that would bring women to be screened for breast and cervical cancer.
"Halloween is an event that comes up every year. While I was in London, the hype about Halloween was so much [that] I said when I get back to Nigeria [it would be one of the] platforms I can use to reach out to as many women as possible. And I realised that the hype too about the Halloween in Nigeria has started beefing up. So I decided to embark on a preventive strategy by using different parties to reach these women that are ready to party and spend money. The event is Spook Out Cancer Halloween Party.
The aim of the event was to reach out, create awareness about breast and cervical cancer and at the same time providing free screening to all the women in attendance. Halloween is a scary event and we have decided to use this platform to bring more scary issue, which is killing a lot of people to the table. You may have fine face and meanwhile your inside is rotten and you would not know. The only detective is breast/cervical screening. And that is what has brought about this party. I have seen my mum die and I don't want others to die."
Shimmers, her entertainment and lifestyle outfit, with a couple of friends have come together to put their names on this laudable project: Momaquakes, Sala Productions, Hex Entertainment, Jade Academy, XQ Lounge, Fairlife Africa and her family too have been very supportive.
"There are some people with mentality that believe that 'na one thing go kill person' but that thing is preventable. Every female from the age of 12 should be interested and should know her cervical and breast cancer status. We are focusing on all the platforms to make sure we reach to as many women as possible. We are going to take advantage of club days, the Christmas parties. I am ready to bring these doctors to the churches, market squares, mosques, local governments, the clubs and anywhere we can reach women.
With less than N3, 000, they can save a life. Let's put hands together and stop the rate at which this cervical cancer is killing our women just as the rate of HIV/AIDS is dropping gradually. Some women are dying because they don't know. We need to be health-conscious. Why should a lady put on nice shoes, nice clothes and enter her car when her inside rotten.
Do you think it is nice to watch somebody very close to you die? I watched my mum until she closed her eyes. She was just looking at us smiling. She asked for her favourite things before she gave up. It is a reality. And that why we must put hands together to stop the scourge."