When an abnormal cell begins growing in any part of your body in the form of a turmoil, do not hesitate to go for diagnosis to ascertain the cause, as that could be a symptom of cancer disease.
Cancer is a disease that is caused by natural occurrences or lifestyle, and is a health evil that can affect anyone, irrespective of age, level of income, status or background, hence the need for routine medical examination to enable potentials detect and confront what is wrong or growing abnormally in the body system without their consent.
While there are other risk factors responsible for the increasing rate of cancer, it is said to be one of the killer diseases that eats every part of one’s body, including the brain and does not kill immediately.
In order word, when you discover an abnormal growth in your organ, especially at the tissue of your body and is not hurting or paining you, don’t assume it to be just a normal thing or growth that will disappear, go for checkup, as early detection can prevent further spread of the disease and save life.
These are the messages that took center stage, at the one-day expanded breast and cervical cancer sensitization, with staff, mostly women at the headquarters of Nasarawa State Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning in Lafia.
The sensitization campaign, which exposed the participants to symptoms, risk and prevention of cancer, was organised by Mbegir Humanitarian Initiative, a Keffi-based non-governmental organisation.
The sensitization, which basically focused on breast cancer, points that women are at risk of having breast cancer, considering the prevalent rate, with a reasonable percentage of death recorded yearly. The breast is one of the fatty areas in a woman’s body that is prone to develop cancer.
Mbegir, a feminine organisation, had engaged in advancing the cause of women in tackling socio-cultural problems affecting them, with focus on women health related issues, such as breast and cervical cancer, STD, Fistula and Ovarian cyst, as well as girl child education.
According to National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT), “Cancer is globally recognized as one of the leading non-communicable diseases and a major contributor of morbidity and mortality, with an estimated number of over 19.3 million new cases and almost 10.0 million deaths in 2020.
“The number is expected to rise by 70 percent in the next two decades, with the highest burden in low and middle income countries, where survival rates are less than half of those in the developed countries.
“In Nigeria, cancer caused over 78,000 deaths in 2020 alone 34,200 for male and 44,699 for female. This number has increased, given that there are new cases of cancer every year 124, 815 in the 2020 – 23. The estimated incidence for breast cancer is 27 percent, cervix uteri 14 percent, liver 12 percent, prostate 12 percent and colorectum 4.1 percent.
According to the National Cancer Control Plan (2018–2022), cancer is responsible for 72,000 deaths in Nigeria every year, with an estimated 102,000 new cases of cancer annually.
Cancer has an immense socio-economic impact on individuals, families, communities and the health system. It is often associated with a protracted course of illness and loss of productivity, resulting in significant physical, psychosocial and financial burden in an increasingly younger segment of the productive population.
The huge burden of cancer is compounded by a severely limited capacity of most low income countries to provide the necessary health care. Late-stage presentation and inaccessible diagnosis and treatment are common.
Elisha Rahab, founder and CEO, Mbegir Humanitarian Initiative, explained that the essence of the campaign was to help women stay healthy and improve their wellbeing.
“Breast cancer is alarming now. It is the number one type of cancer that is killing women in millions, and in our state to be precise, ignorance has been the very big problem in defeating this enemy of women, because a lot of women out there do not have knowledge of this.
“We are coming to the government institutions to create enlightenment, because we understand that most of these women are educated and they are connected to other women in one way or the other in their communities, and even in their villages.
“If we are able to educate most of these persons in the government MDAs, they will also share the information to others. We are just creating a network of sensitization campaigns.”
Rehab, who is optimistic of their determination to reach out to women in rural areas, said one of the challenges the organisation was experiencing with women is lack of early detection.
“The best way to handle cancer is early detection, as most of these women are able to detect this early. Some of them must have started seeing these early symptoms, but because they have no knowledge about it, they ignore it. Some of them feel they are normal features of the breast, some of them get wrong information and go to native doctors and other places they would not get help from, instead of going to health facilities.
“That has been a serious challenge and we have a lot of clients on the ground who need help.”
The founder of Mbegir Initiative called for support from well-meaning individuals, donor agencies and government to provide palliative treatment and support to cancer patients.
“We need government support, organisations and individuals to come in so that we can be able to take the message to every community in the state.
“From our statistics, the clients we have in our care currently are 76 cancer patients, equivalent to 72 percent of the prevalent rates of women in the year under review. We have a lot of them, some have lost their lives, some still battling while others are certified cancer free.
Rehab emphasized that the best way to tackle cancer is sensitization and early sustainable care for persons with this disease.
“You do not just help them once and let them be, you sustain that help until they have finally defeated this enemy of women”.
Most of the things that put women at risk of breast cancer are lifestyle and natural occurrences. According to her, breast cancer can be genetic, and should anyone inherit breast cancer gene, “it is not your fault, but nature.
“But we have lifestyles that put us at risk, which is smoking, intake of alcohol, use of cosmetic and from statistics in Nigeria generally, breast and Ovarian is more high in Northern Nigeria, because of the use of a lot of products called ‘Kayan Mata’ that is use to enhance the body to seduce men or to keep them.
“These things are not good for the body. There are alot of cosmetics we use also that kills the tissue and the cells in the body, as well as birth control pills or contraceptives, that are not prescribed by the doctor, are not good for the body. They affect the hormones that could help us fight this disease”.
She stated that, new lump, abnormal discharge from the nipple, boil, flicky skin, visible black vain, stiffy breast, browses around the nipple are some of the risk factors of cancer, adding that, tissue around the breast are far different from other parts of the body, as it is made up of fragile tissue, hence women should desist from exposing themselves to light, radiation from phones, laptops, projector light, light from x-ray machine and others.
Rehab, who further explained the anatomy of the breast to the participants, advised women to always consider using cotton breast clothes to absorb dirt and sweat into the body.
According to her, being a woman, accumulated excess fat, a woman that has never given birth, birth control pills, cosmetics and deodorants are also some of the risk factors of cancer in women.
“Women taking birth control pills, without the prescription of a doctor, even when they are not married are at risk of becoming cancer victims.
“The breast is one of the parts of the body with fat and is prone to cancer, hence women should desist from what will increase fat on their body.
“Aside from breastfeeding, which is a normal thing for nursing mothers, women should allow their husbands or spouses to caress, suck and massage their breasts more often, saying, it is good for the women and it reduces the risks of becoming a cancer victim”.
She advised women “to get the knowledge about breast cancer and to share the knowledge with their relatives and to practice self breast examination by standing in front of a mirror naked, using pad of their three fingers to be checking for any potential lump or tumor growing around the breast or armpit.”
Rehab added that, breast examination of such nature is very necessary after every menstrual period, and added that, bleaching cream washes the outer layer of the body and as such, those bleaching their body to be fair in complexion are at risk of becoming cancer victims.
Mbegir Humanitarian Initiative is an organisation that has existed for more than five years, with focus on creating awareness and raising support for cancer victims. They have visited some tertiary institutions, over 14 rural communities and government MDAs in the state on cancer awareness campaigns.