Breast Cancer Awareness Event Held, Third Time in CountryOctober 27th, 2009
Breast Cancer awareness creation walking was held for the third time in Ethiopia on Sunday jointly by Mathiwos Wondu - YeEthiopia Cancer Society and the Ethiopian Cancer Association at Meskel Square. A cancer control programme is important for prevention, treatment and care, Dr. Bogale Solomon, cancer specialist said.
Dr. Yetnayet Abebe, board member and fund raiser with the Mathiwos Wondu - YeEthiopia Cancer Society, made the welcoming remark in which she expressed her gratefulness to participants who spend their time and money for the cause. October is a breast cancer awareness creation month throughout the world. Ethiopia marked it the 3rd time while internationally it has been the 25th, she said.
Many who could have been cured had they had the treatment in time lost their lives, like W/ro Alayush Tefera, she added.
Dr. Bogale Solomon, Cancer Specialist and the only Oncologist in the country, on the occasion said Cancer used to be considered a disease of the rich in the developed world. But evidences show startling discovery that 60 percent of the cancer cases are in the developing world. Added to this is the limitation in resources to address the issue, problem of awareness, and so on.
Cancer is not a problem merely of the people suffering from it, he went on. No one can say he/she is immune. A person who is healthy today could become sick at some point in time. And hence being a part of the effort is not an option, he said and went on to add, besides, few of us here will say cancer has not made a visit to our families.
We need a cancer control programme to prevent its occurrence, for treatment in its early stages if it does, and to care for serious level of sickness to minimize suffering. If we fail to do this, we are giving cancer the chance to cause maximum damage.
Dr. Bogale said Cancer is the number of one killer mainly due to smoking. It is necessary to control this. So far in Ethiopia it is not as serious as in the West. This is because the number of smokers in Ethiopia is low. But this can change for the worse. It will be unwise to let that happen by failing to take measures to avoid it.
In regard to Breast Cancer, Dr. Bogale mentioned the risk factors: being women, advancing in age, increase in weight and inappropriate eating habit, and related to birth - early menstruation and late menopause. "There are factors we can't control and others in our hands," he said.
Stressing the importance of awareness, Dr. Bogale indicated the need to watch closely changes in oneself. He mentioned important symptoms like, swelling around the breast, pain, discharge of fluid (watery or blood), and wrinkles in the nipples. However, he warned that to determine whether these symptoms mean cancer or otherwise, it is essential people go for medical check up.
Alula, the first borne of W/ro Alayus Tefera, the woman who was lost to cancer said his mother took part in the first round of marking the occasion, in the second round she sent message from her bed being too weak with cancer, and for the third she is no more among us, he said. It is not just the person with cancer that experiences the pains; the entire family does, he added.
Athlete Haile G/Selassie, who was also taking part in the event, said he lost his mother when he was seven. Nobody knew then what his mother died from. It is only later that they learnt it was cancer that took his mom away. "We all try to do something when we lose someone. The tradition of working to prevent it in the first place needs to develop," he said and went on to add, he would contribute his part primarily for his own sake because it is his obligation to do so. He added a warning not to forget about the task after the walk is over. More than the money it is other areas of contribution that mean a lot, he said.
Representing the government, Minister of Women's Affairs opened the ceremony in which she said awareness creation is very important. This issue is not something that could be pushed for tomorrow. The government is working hard because it is in line with its policy. But all sections of the society should take part in it. The nation does not have the necessary resources and professionals. Hence the government is working to address the problem on long term basis and is working with all stakeholders.
UN Women Association and Ambassadors' Spouses groups were also present in the event in which the representative of the former made some remarks and handed over a check for 25,000 birr. While the latter said they are engaged in supporting causes like this and added, this year they donated 70, 000 to Mathiwos Wondu - YeEthiopia Cancer Society.
Every year 7 million lose their lives to cancer and a further 11 million become infected. Twelve percent of the deaths every year are due to cancer. If the current trend continues, by 2020 some 10 million would die every year and another 16 million would be infected, of which 70 percent would be in developing countries, the brochure distributed indicated.