We can all contribute to the fight against cancer - BCIEA founder

Phillipa Decuir has been at the forefront of the fight against cancer. The BCIEA Wellness Center where patients enhance and sustain a healthy lifestyle while improving one’s overall health. / Courtesy photos

In recognition of World Cancer Day, Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa (BCIEA), put up a Cancer Health Fair, on February 4, at their Wellness Centre in Kanombe, Kigali.

The purpose of the health fair dubbed “I am and I will” was to increase awareness about breast cancer, the leading cause of death among all cancers, and encourage people on early testing to help in the fight against the deadly disease.

“We have always had an annual health fair in the United States and I wanted to try it here in Rwanda because not many people know about health fair and to commemorate World Cancer Day at the grassroots level. It was our wish that people know about early detection and screening services at different hospitals so we can combat cancer,” Philippa Kibugu-Decuir, Founder, CEO and Advocate of BCIEA said.

Through awareness and introducing check-ups at all hospitals and with the recent opening of the Rwanda Cancer Centre, Constance Mukankusi, an educator and community outreach councillor at the organisation, said Rwanda is making tremendous steps in dealing with cancer.

The organisation also conducts awareness campaigns and screening in different organisations. They are also partnering with medical students at the University of Rwanda, who helped fundraise money for radiation for a cancer patient.

This, Kibugu-Decuir says, should be a lesson to all Rwandans that they can contribute something to the fight.

“A lady came to me for help to pay 10 per cent for radiation and I just informed the students about her situation and they all fundraised for the money. Soon she will be going for radiation and hopefully, her cancer will be gone,” she said.

The Medical Students Association, learning from BCIEA initiative, began volunteering to demystify myths surrounding breast cancer causes and treatment.

“Even though breast cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths in cancers, not many people know about it, so we decided to volunteer in spreading awareness. We also had to fundraise for the patient Phillipa told us about because even one patient’s life matters. It’s unfortunate to have cancer but worse if you cannot afford treatment,” he said.

Together with BCIEA and with support from Mara Phones, the students are also building an application which will serve for research and awareness purposes in dealing with cancer.

“People can fill in information about what they know about cancer, their experiences with cancer and the information can be useful to researchers or medics on how to deal with patients. The application will be effective very soon,” Serge Ndagijimana, the association’s president said.

After a deadly encounter with breast cancer which claimed the life of her sister, Kibugu-Decuir has been at the forefront of the fight against the disease.

She opened the BCIEA Wellness Centre two years ago to help patients enhance and sustain a healthy lifestyle while improving one’s overall health, completely free of charge.

Survivors meet to do knitted prosthesis for women, talk and listen to each other’s stories, and through this, there is a lot of interruption and psychosocial going on.


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