WORLDWIDE, the month of October is set aside as the breast cancer awareness month. It is the time when everybody unites for the common good, to celebrate life and survivorship, remember those who passed on; reflect and set new goals on how to continue the fight against breast cancer and increase awareness horizons.
This is the time when people forget their differences and come together to actively participate in various activities such as walks, rides, competitions, marathons, food fairs, art, music and sports to raise money for research, treatment and support.
In Houston alone, on October 1, 2011 over 30,000 people, young and old and from all lifestyles participated in the walk and raised millions of dollars for the cure. Everyone voluntarily participated, which explains why the energy and enthusiasm was highly contagious.
Raising money and increasing awareness of Breast Cancer is only part of the eventual solution to this indomitable disease. We must take action individually to educate ourselves and it will take action to find the cure.
We in Rwanda must make Breast Cancer our business, and face it head on just as people in developed countries do.
Almost all of us know someone who has suffered from Breast Cancer. How much do you know about this disease, its risk factors, detection, prevention or treatment? Despite major strides in developed countries, Breast Cancer remains the second leading cause of death among women after lung cancer (heart disease is number one killer).
Early detection resulting from increased awareness and mass screening, improved treatment and support are responsible for increased survival rates in America. Breast Cancer does not have to be a death sentence; when diagnosed early, Breast Cancer is confined. As a result, the survival rate for Breast cancer in America has remained at 98 percent for the last five years.
The picture in Rwanda and East Africa as a whole is dismal and the burden of Breast Cancer is a reality that we must urgently deal with.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), 70 percent of cancers in developing countries are diagnosed an untreatable stage because of lack of knowledge and awareness. It is imperative that people must love their lives enough to understand how their body works. By doing so, they are able to inform their doctors when they notice any changes in their bodies. They must also stay informed and should not believe the myths and misinformation about cancer that is floating out there.
Making October a big deal aims at ensuring that the world does not forget the devastating impact of Breast Cancer on individuals, family, community and the nation as a whole. It is the time to reaffirm our slogan: “Early Detection Is the Best Protection”, “Kwisuzumisha Kare Niko Kwirinda Nyabyo” and practice it.
The fight against Breast Cancer begins with each one of us and every step you take, the time or money you donate brings us closer to the answer. Together we can be the “Change We Want.”
The author is a 17 Breast Cancer Survivor and Founder/Director BCIEA Inc.