4 November 2017

Nigeria: Breast Cancer - a Bank's Contribution to Fight a Deadly Scourge

The month of October is observed as the Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Labake Fashogbon looks at the deadly scourge that has claimed the lives of many women and how Skye Bank is joining in the fight to end its spread

Chinyere (not real names) thought the small lump she felt just under her right breast was just a small issue. But the pain would not go away but was rather becoming severe. Several months after and series of cosmetic treatments, Chinyere and her husband decided to see a specialist and their worst fears were confirmed: Chinyere had breast cancer. And that confirmation, a three-year battle began; a battle she never won as she succumbed to the cold hands of death almost four years after she first felt that lump.

There are many Chinyeres out there, some are dying and some are at the early stages of cancer. For them, life is at a standstill. They are in pains, both mentally and physically. But to show that the world has not forgotten about them, October has been set aside as the Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is marked globally to draw attention and support for awareness, early detection and treatment of the disease.

The disease is the second most common kind of cancer in women and strangely, it accounts for about half a million deaths each year which is due largely to inadequate medical care and lack of awareness about the disease. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 70 per cent of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Consequently, deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue to rise to over 13.1 million in 2030.

These alarming figures call for a concerted effort by government, research institutes and the private sector to fight the scourge of cancer in our society in order to reduce the mortality rate among the womenfolk.

According to insights from research conducted by US-based medical experts: Laurie Glimcher, the Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College; Wendy Chen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and Patricia Steeg, a doctoral degree holder, deputy chief of the Women's Malignancies Branch at the National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research, there are indications that the three most recent big breakthroughs in the Fight Against Breast Cancer -Taming Rogue Cells; Treating From the Medicine Cabinet and Catching Cancer Before It Spreads, may be able to stem mortality in women as a result of breast cancer.

While banks have been accused of only focusing on increasing the profit margin and hardly contribute to social and humanitarian causes, Skye Bank seems ready to be different with its commitment to joining the fight against the scourge of breast cancer in the country. Tokunbo Abiru, the bank's managing director, said through their non-governmental organisation partner, Care Organisation and Public Enlightenment, COPE, would ensure that the pain breast cancer causes the nation's women is brought to an end.

"We are committed to the fight against the high incidence of cancer; especially breast cancer in the country and with our NGO partner, Care, Organisation and Public Enlightenment (COPE) Foundation, no stone is going to be left unturned until the disease is brought to a halt." Speaking further, Abiru said: "Our concern and desire as a financial institution and a corporate citizen, is to stem the growing trend of the disease."

The Skye Bank boss pledged that the financial institution would continue to support worthy social causes in the health sector to improve the wellbeing and healthcare of Nigerians, saying a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. He explained that in the past, the financial service giants had sponsored a 10-kilometre walk in two different locations within the Lagos metropolis with over 2,500 participants to draw the attention of the public to the deadly cancer scourge.

In her remarks, the Managing Partner of COPE Foundation, Mrs. Ebun Anozie, called for the establishment of cancer care centres in the country where specialists would be available to provide care and treatment to patients and survivors. She commended Skye Bank for sponsoring over 30 indigent cancer patients for treatment in addition to providing free screening programmes for over 12,000 women within and outside Lagos.

"Unfortunately, we have noticed the prevalence of breast cancer in younger women and late presentation is still on the increase. Women should please avail themselves of the opportunity to free screening because early detection and treatment is safer and cheaper," she said.

A consultant Oncologist who also serves an adviser to the Foundation, Dr. Anthonia Showunmi, advised members of the public to live a healthy life style, avoid risky behaviours and to go for general medical checkup once in a year. In order to put its desires into action, the bank, in collaboration with COPE Foundation, is providing free breast cancer screening opportunity for hundreds of women as its continuing support for the fight against cancer in October and beyond.

The bank, in the last twelve years, has made huge commitment to the fight against cancer and other Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) as part of its contribution to society through its flagship Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) footprints.

Abiru further explained that some of the bank's footprints over the years include: SEEK-A-CARE project, a long term relevant home care delivery service offered to breast cancer patients; the establishment of a Breast Cancer Information Service Center to serve as a databank where relevant and up to date information on breast cancer is made available; donation of state-of-the-art cancer screening machines, LogiQ C2 and Mind Ray Ultra-Sound System, to enhance quality diagnosis and clinical practices at the COPE Centre.

Others included provision of the equipment has increased the chances of early detection of breast cancer which has significantly raised the survival chances of cancer patients and also given opportunity to more women to be able to determine their status.

He explained that over 30 indigent cancer patients were supported by the bank for treatment in addition to providing free scanning programs for over 12,000 women within and outside Lagos. He also disclosed that the bank helped to beef up the capacity and skill set of officers from COPE Foundation by sponsoring them to UICC World Cancer Training and Conference in Australia.

So much from a financial institution that wants to give back to a society where it operates. And with gestures like these, perhaps many Chinyeres out there would be saved from untimely deaths.

Nigeria

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