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An Inspirational Hangout (1)

July 30, 2017

I have been longing to see my friend for a while. She runs an NGO in Lagos Nigeria, Cancer Aware. We were together in Secondary School and in the University. This is the first time we are seeing since graduation.

I learnt a lot from her. I learnt about how cancer is a ravaging devourer (words carefully selected) which not only longs to kill a patient but also desires to steal the wealth and destroy the emotional stability of the family members.
Cancer Aware focuses on women, and she was able to educate me on such prevalent cancers. Cervical cancer has a pre-cancer stage at which it can be treated and terminated. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, there are too many ladies who cannot afford screening or treatment. There are those who do not even know what this is all about! However, the vaccines are expensive at about N10,000 per dose. Each lady needs about 3 doses. That’s about N30,000 per woman. Now, on one side of the Lagos “bridge”, that’s just the cost of a Friday night’s outing for one person. But on the other side of the “bridge”, it’s more than one month’s cost of living.

Rwanda, she explained, is running a project to eliminate cervical cancer by the year 2020. How? Vaccinate all girls from age 9! Why is Nigeria not doing that?

She pointed out that the cost of treatment is phenomenally higher than the cost of prevention. How so? It takes N30,000 to prevent cervical cancer. It takes chemotherapy to treat cancer without a guarantee of success. For ease of calculation, let us assume there are no side effects. Each patient needs 6 doses of chemo@N600,000 per dose. That’s a ratio of 1:120!! Shouldn’t we vaccinate every woman in Nigeria by all means possible???
For radiotherapy, there are 3 surviving centres in Nigeria: UCH, LUTH, and Eko Hospital. She mentioned the Sokoto centre which closed down recently. Another may be coming up in Calabar soon.

Cancer Aware seeks to screen and vaccinate. They try to support patients with the cost of treatment, but this cost is prohibitive; not many patients get such support. Cancer Aware also renovates oncology wards falling apart in government hospitals.

I asked what we could do to support!!
1. Our organisations can support the war against cancer as a Corporate Social Responsibility.
2. Individuals can support with little sums. About a year ago, I supported with a tiny sum. In a  few minutes, I got a “thank you” email. I screamed; many NGOs in Nigeria do not acknowledge the receipt of funds. But Cancer Aware does!
3. You can invite Cancer Aware to make a presentation at your place of work, worship, estate meetings, trade union meetings, etc.Won’t it be better to spend our 1 hour this way than to spend it mourning at a patient’s bed side?
4. Influence policy to reduce environmental pollution. The fumes of diesel and petrol engines kill in the short run and damage in the long run. Neither is a good option.
5. Everybody should undergo screening duly.

While cancer is not our portion, you know at least one person who has died of cancer right? So why not do something?
Visit http://www.canceraware.org.ng or talk@canceraware.org.ng to explore more options.

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From → a better world

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