25 February 2013

Rwanda: One Becomes We, Together We Can Conquer Cancer

We just celebrated World Cancer Day, on February 13, with its thought provoking theme: "Recognition and Awareness, Dispelling Four Cancer Myths" In recognition and support of World Cancer Day Organisation leadership, we at Breast Cancer East Africa Inc.(BCIEA Inc), passionately believe that education is critical to winning the global fight against cancer.

The second myth is that cancer "Is a First-World Disease". This reminds me of a comment from Mukamusoni, a 78 year old Rwandan woman in 2008: She said, "Kanseri ni indrwara y'abazungu"

BCIEA focuses specifically on breast cancer; but realizes that all cancers are devastating and ferocious diseases that are simply stated, distinguished by the body organ they attack.

BCIEA is only a small voice joining the larger conversation believing that there is strength in numbers as ONE voice becomes WE and Together We can conquer cancer.

The first myth World Cancer Day is debunking is that "Cancer is only a Health Issue" by revealing that cancer has "wide-reaching social, economic, development and human rights implications" How many of us think of cancer in these terms and yet how true? When you think about what is known about cancer risk factors, practicing good nutrition, making healthy life style choices, not smoking or excessive alcohol, and access to early detection, clinical breast exam and mammograms are social economic issues as well as health. Economic investment is essentially required for capacity building and cancer research.

The second myth is that cancer "Is a First-World Disease". This reminds me of a comment from Mukamusoni, a 78 year old Rwandan woman in 2008: She said, "Kanseri ni indrwara y'abazungu"

According to 2010 CDC data, cancer was reported to be the highest cause of death in the USA which somehow justifies the association of cancer with developed nations. Yet, WHO points out that over half of all cancer-related deaths occur in developing countries. People in these poor countries do get cancer; have limited or no access to treatment and early detection options. This view underscores the importance of all effort promoting awareness and early detection in developing countries. This is therefore a challenge that must be faced in order to make the truth a reality.

The third dispelled myth: "Cancer Is a Death Sentence" echoes fear and desperation. Yet evidence and experience show that early detection is the key to successful outcome after diagnosis. With breast cancer, early detection strategies that include breast self exam, clinical breast exam and mammogram have saved lives including mine. This myth will continue to be debunked with our vigilant adoption of early detection practices by all of us.

The fourth dispelled myth: "Cancer Is My Fate", viewed positively, endorses and validates the work of cancer advocates and all those in the fight against cancer. Our missions may be stated differently, but we are all united by the goal to empower people to take charge of their health once they armed with correct health information. With breast cancer, women (and men) learn about risk factors that are uncontrollable and what steps to make to prevent as: "improving diet, physical activity, and maintaining a healthy body weight could prevent about a third of the most common cancers", including breast cancer.

Although we celebrate World Cancer Day once a year, we can determine to take this powerful truth and use it to celebrate our life daily-making healthy choices in what we eat, do, and how we live? It could perhaps, impact our long-term health.

Please pass this information on so that One becomes We and Together We can Conquer Cancer.

The writer is the founder of BCIEA Inc.


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