Cancer survivors lean on and learn from each other. They are the most kin-knit, compassionate, bold, understanding and yet vulnerable, fearless and ferocious fighters I have ever seen. They all share a common belief succinctly expressed by this quote by another survivor: ‘In the fight against cancer, unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything.”
A close look explains exactly what I am sharing.
Just as surviving breast cancer or any other cancer is not a solo journey, fighting breast cancer requires a unified front. I am reminded of Gandhi’s admonition to “be the change we seek.” I want to stretch this profound statement further and reiterate what has been said before and proven true: “Together we can bring about the change we want and need” to address the burden of cancer in Rwanda.
By sharing existing knowledge, we empower each other. Empowered people can and will overcome fear and ignorance, the two notorious deterrents of any form of progress. Empowered people are informed about their options and are capable of making the right decisions about and for their lives. We tend to draw from lessons learned to enrich our lives and the environment we live in.
My cancer experience has taught me that I am stronger than I think, and this is true for each one of us. Yes, the experience was extremely challenging and the journey from diagnosis to survival was incredible; yet the knowledge and fortitude I gained was
phenomenal. It rekindled my high school motto: “Never Give Up” which I conveniently conjoined with “Passing on Life Saving Information” and this has become my lifelong passion.
I cannot, but share lessons learned. As an informed patient, with access to topnotch diagnostics, treatment and support options that saved my life, how can I not want the same for another human being in the same condition regardless of where she is in the world? It behooves all of us to ensure that geography or where someone lives is not the determinant of whether one lives or dies. After all, has it not been established that health is indeed a human right?
While we grapple with developing the much needed capacity building, infrastructures and resources necessary to address the burden of cancer, let us do the essential groundwork on ourselves. Let us adopt and practice the belief that Attitude is everything.
Every day, we have to make choices about our lives; how to live, how to spend our time, energy and money. We determine what we do based upon our ethics, goals values and dreams. This can only be achieved if we know who we are, love, and value ourselves as “fearfully and wonderfully created human beings.” When we have this attitude, then we can invest in ourselves and take charge of our health.
This is the principle propagated by BCIEA’s slogan: Ikunde, Imenye Isuzumishe in our breast cancer awareness campaign. One could easily argue that until people, know, love and value themselves, no amount of innovative services or technology will make them take charge of their health or lives. People have self worth, “agaciro” can move mountains they can do the impossible.
Informed and empowered citizens are confident to embrace a paradigm shift in the way they think, act and in the way they view themselves and others. The measure of awareness is evidenced by a continuous learning process and the accountability in accepting change the community displays among its members.
BCIEA is challenging everyone to join the Relay for Life whose clarion call is: “Early Detection is the Best Protection” not only against breast or other cancers, but against all diseases. “Kwisuzumisha Kare Niko Kwirinda Nyabyo.”