By Rowland Onyekwu
The wife of Ondo State Governor, and founder of Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), wants survivors of Breast Cancer from Africa to raise awareness from their experience, in their various areas, in order to save lives.
She made this call in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, during a dinner organized by Breast Cancer Initiative of East Africa, at Kigali Serena Hotel, to mark their 10th anniversary.
Sharing her experience with breast cancer 22 years ago, Mrs Akeredolu revealed that survivors were nowhere to be found as a result of the stigma associated with the disease which, according to her, left women diagnosed during that time in the dark, not knowing who to talk to.
She said, “Twenty years ago, you wouldn’t hear anything from anybody about surviving breast cancer, so you are faced with not knowing who to talk to or if anyone had ever had such an experience.
“That was my own situation until I got to the hospital and I realized that women who were undergoing same experience were many, but they were not talking.
“Right there at the hospital, I decided that I wasn’t going to be part of that silence and I expect every survivor in Africa not to be silent about it, rather raise awareness like Philippa is doing today.”
She however pointed out that what she went through at that time, inspired her to establish Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, in 1997, 6 months after she was discharged from the hospital, an association committed to galvanizing actions to end breast cancer as a life-threatening disease through public education, advocacy, patient support and research.
She commended the founder of Breast Cancer Initiative of East Africa, Philippa Kibugu-Decuir, for establishing the organization 10 years ago after her own breast cancer experience, an action she said survivors all over Africa should emulate in order to build the much needed advocacy community to fight the disease in the continent.
She however emphasized that awareness is the entry point to surviving breast cancer, and encouraged women to be “breast-aware” by regularly carrying out breast self-examination (BSE).
In her vote of thanks, the founder of BCIEA, Philippa Kibugu-Decuir expressed gratitude to all those who made the organization’s 10th anniversary celebration a huge success and encouraged them to keep supporting charity work as it is a noble cause.
BCIEA had on Saturday, 12th October, 2019 organized a six-kilometer ULINZI WALK to raise awareness on breast cancer as part of the activities marking their anniversary.
The well-attended dinner had Rwandan top government officials, Nigerian High Commissioner to Rwanda, captains of industries, Delegates from BRECAN Nigeria, cancer advocates from some African countries, Australia and the United States of America in attendance.
Highlights of the event were cultural displays and auction sales of items to raise fund for patient support.