Against the background of widespread incidence of breast cancer in Nigeria and its attendant impact on patients’ overall wellbeing, experts have advocated for early presentation as a key first step towards the prevention and cure of the disease.
This advice was given at a webinar organised by Polaris Bank in Lagos. The event was part of activities lined up by the bank to commemorate the breast cancer awareness month themed: “The Brave Conversations: Diagnosis and Remedy.”
The webinar, which was held recently, focused on the objective of creating a heightened awareness of breast cancer with a view to stimulating conversations around the scourge.
The session featured three speakers – authorities in breast cancer awareness and treatment and a survivor. The speakers were: Anthonia Sowunmi, a pioneer clinical and radiation oncologist in Nigeria with over 20 years’ experience in oncology; Ebunola Anozie, founder/CEO of Care Organisation Public Enlightenment (C.O.P.E), a comprehensive cancer resource provider for women, students, breast cancer survivors and caregivers in Nigeria, and Semira Oguntoyinbo, a cancer survivor.
In her contribution, Polaris Bank’s group head, products and market development, Adebimpe Ihekuna, who moderated the session, noted that the womenfolk had to be intentional about regular and consistent check-ups as outlined by medical experts. She noted that it is through such a process they could detect early enough lumps in their breasts – which could either be benign or cancerous – for early intervention and treatment. “Health is wealth, therefore we should take our health and well-being very seriously and as a matter of fact be intentional and deliberate with regular check-ups.”
She further noted, “While there are technological advancements and innovations in the treatment of breast cancer, creating awareness remains a veritable tool in helping to prevent and reduce the occurrence of the disease.”
While delivering her paper, Sowunmi described cancer as one of the leading causes of death and tasked women to invest in their personal hygiene, be conscious of their body and not repeat wearing the same bras. “It should be one bra per day,” she emphasised. “One of the risk factors aside from lifestyle choices is for women to take the issue of hygiene to heart. And because the breast area generates lots of heat and sweat, medical experts advise that women should wear clean bra every day and not otherwise.”
On her part, Anozie, reminiscing on how she lost both her parents to cancer, thanked Polaris Bank for their support for COPE over the years. She noted that the bank right from inception provided COPE with the necessary equipment including the provision of scanning machines and the sponsoring of free screening for women. She also stressed the importance of support groups for patients to enable them build and regain their self-esteem.
Oguntoyinbo provided insight into her own personal experience as a survivor. As a mother of 2 teenagers, her journey to conquering breast cancer started in 2014 when she first noticed a lump in her left breast. “Between then and now, I have had 6 chemotherapies and also enjoyed the invaluable contributions of very supportive family members and the breast cancer support group I belong to,” she explained. She thanked COPE and Polaris Bank for their various levels of support.
The Bank in addition to pledging its continued support to the fight against breast Cancer also announced that as part of marking this year’s breast cancer awareness campaign, Polaris bank will through its women focused product, Polaris Pearl provide hundreds of its customers and non-customers free cancer screening service. This will be done through its NGO Partner COPE.
According to a GLOBOCAN report, there were 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million cancer deaths in 2018 alone. One in every five men and one in every six women will die from cancer before age 75.