World Cancer Day (February 4) was marked in Lagos, Nigeria with the 2nd annual Omolara Jolaoso Memorial Lecture*. The lecture themed “ Survivorship” brought together more than 500 participants including local and international cancer experts, patients, survivors, advocates, healthcare professionals, government officials, policy makers, legislators, parents and students where knowledge and experience about survivorship were shared in order to galvanise action and build networks to improve breast cancer support and care in Nigeria. The event which had three speakers namely: 1. Dr Julie Gralow, Professor of Medical Oncology, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle, Washington, USA, 2. Ms. Philippa Decuir, Founder/Executive Director, Breast Cancer Initiative of East Africa, Inc.(BCIEA), Rwanda and 3. Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, Founder/President, Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), Ibadan, Nigeria was chaired by Professor Adeyemi T. Ajekigbe, Consultant Radiation Oncologist & Head of Department, Radiotherapy & Oncology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos, Nigeria.
Preceding the lecture and in line with its theme was a patient/survivor counseling session organized at the Department of Radiotherapy & Oncology, LUTH, to initiate community support for women (and men too) facing breast cancer through collaboration between BRECAN and LUTH. After the well attended interactive session, branded goodies bags containing Shoprite gift vouchers were given to all patients as a way of putting smiles on their faces. Respecting the privacy of the patients, it was a closed session, so only patients and their care givers, staff of the department (doctors and nurses), guest speakers and BRECAN members were in attendance.
Given that among the aims of annual Omolara Jolaoso Memorial Lecture is to use the platform to stimulate the interest of next generation breast cancer researchers in Nigeria, a post-lecture workshop was held on February 5, 2015. It focused on international collaboration on breast cancer research in Nigeria for health care professionals with research interest in breast cancer management. Highlights included information shared on the state of breast health care in Nigeria and trends in breast health care in USA. Upon juxtaposition of the status of breast health care in the two climes, it was apparent that the Nigerian situation was in dire need for intervention to stem the prevailing needless breast cancer deaths majorly due to late presentation. Whereas it is desirable to follow the trend in the USA that resulted in increasing number of patients living longer with good quality of life, it was a consensus that in view of our level of development and compounded by dwindling government revenue, interventions should be prioritized while adopting models that could work and sustainable. Considering our low resourced setting, intervention areas listed for immediate action were: sustained awareness campaign, organized screening by clinical breast examination (CBE), advocacy for the provision of adequate infrastructure and procurement of radiotherapy machines through Public-Private-Partnership (PPP). In attendance were healthcare professionals and survivor advocates. The panel included:
- Olalekan Olasehinde, OAUTHC, Ile-Ife
- Mutiu Jimoh, UCH, Ibadan
- Alabi Adewunmi, LUTH, Lagos
- Julie Gralow, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle, Washington
- Kinsley Ndoh, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle, Washington
With Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, BRECAN, Ibadan as the moderator.
BRECAN expresses profound gratitude to our sponsors:
- K Square Multidimensional Limited
- Newton & David Events
- Bambi Investment Limited
- Dream Audio Works
- Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi, SAN
- Chief Adebayo Adetunji
Their contribution and engagement were vital to the success of the entire programme.
* Omolara Jolaoso Memorial Lecture is a partnership programme between Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) and Landers 88, a set of students’ association of Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School (MCSS), Lagos with the intent of immortalizing their classmate, Omolara Jolaoso, who died of breast cancer in 2013. The death of Omolara at 44 is symbolic of many unaccounted for and untimely breast cancer deaths prevalent in Nigeria, yet, no serious intervention mechanism is in place to checkmate the scourge and provide sufferers with adequate treatment and care. With the successful inauguration of the lecture, BRECAN has paved the way for engaging communities in the fight against breast cancer in Nigeria with the hope of raising the profile of the disease to attract the attention it deserves. It is our hope that the MCSS community will serve as a rallying point in galvanizing more communities into a collective action to become breast aware, advocate for and support services that reduce the burden of care on patients and their families. Besides using the annual lecture as a platform to raise breast cancer awareness, it will also aim at grooming advocates of all ages to demand from government for adequate funding of improved infrastructure for breast health care, lobbying for policy legislation to guide impactful interventions and stimulating the interest of next generation of breast cancer researchers in Nigeria.
World Cancer Day @ George & Duke College, Ibadan
On Feb. 11, BRECAN in collaboration with George & Duke College, Felele, Ibadan marked the World Cancer Day. . At George & Duke, together with the staff and students, we had fun with the “Talking Hands” campaign showcasing the theme that “WE CAN.I CAN” help prevent and fight cancer . World Cancer Day is an initiative by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to raise awareness about cancer and encourage people and government organizations alike to take action against it.
We, in Ibadan, are proud to join people across the globe in raising awareness about the importance of cancer research, prevention and treatment.
Sea of Heads as Queen’s School Enugu marks 1st ever World Cancer Day
Queen’s School Enugu, Anambra State witnessed its first ever World Cancer Day on February 11, 2016. In collaboration with Yakpe Tsebam, a youth corp member serving in the school, BRECAN was able to bring the message of the day – ‘WE CAN. I CAN’ to doorsteps of the school. Yakpe plans to establish a BRECAN club in the school before the end of his service. Together we can nurture future young breast cancer advocates equipped with the knowledge and skills required to advance the cause of breast cancer in Nigeria.
Picture: Yakpe and BRECAN Founder/President, Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu during the 2nd Omolara Jolaoso Memorial Lecture held in Lagos on Feb. 4, 2016.