Mary Ekah
According to research by the World Health Organsation (WHO), Nigeria has the highest cancer death rate in Africa. It is estimated that there are approximately two million people currently affected by the disease in Nigeria while survivorship is said to be as low as 20 per cent for most cancers and three per cent for blood cancers. Even with the high rate of cancer in Nigeria with diagnosis and cure still very poor due to late detection, there is the belief that positive outlook; lifestyle and dietary change can dramatically improve quality of life and longevity of cancer patients.

To this end, Bricon Foundation, an organisation saddled with the responsibility of keeping hope alive for cancer patients as well raise awareness via education, advocacy and counseling while giving patients the hope that they can actually live normal lives even with care, is putting modalities in place to ensure that it achieves its aims. It recently held a fund raising event in conjunction with Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, to raise money for patients and also to raise the hope in those suffering from the disease that cancer is not always a death sentence but that it is possible to beat the disease with early detection and treatment. All donations in cash and kind raised at the event are intended to go directly to patients’ treatment and also to the food bank project.

Co-founder of Bricon, Dr. Niyi Adekeye said that what inspired the establishment of the foundation was the fact that a lot of people suffer from cancer in Nigeria. “We are here not to make them afraid but to make them understand cancer. A lot of people who have cancer are so scared not knowing that they can actually live normal lives even with cancer and that is why we are holding this event tagged, ‘Keeping Hope Alive’, Adekeye said.

His Co-Founder, Abigail Simon-Hart, on her part said, “Cancer is something that touches everybody because almost everyone in the country knows somebody that has cancer or has lost somebody to cancer.” Relating her personal experience as a breast cancer survivor, Simon-Hart, said, “Cancer has been a very personal experience for me having been diagnosed with cancer of the breast in 2014 and it has been very interesting because there are lots of things that people don’t tell you about cancer until only when you come through then you understand.”

Speaking further, she said, “After I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I made the decision of taking off both breasts in order to stop the spread and also to save my life but then there are many practical things that they didn’t tell me about cancer until I discovered them myself.” Simon-Hart stressed further that there was also this stigma and shame that cancer patients carry with them, adding: “But why should anyone be ashamed of what he/she did not cause? She said therefore that what Bricon is trying to do also is to stop the shame and stigma and also raise hope for cancer patients by raising funds for the treatments for them. She emphasised that cancer is not a death sentence like most people think, noting that, “Just because I have cancer does not mean I will die before you. Many people have passed away over night and yet they never had cancer.“

She revealed that she and her partner, Adekeye have always been involved in CSR all the while and then cancer came to them; he having lost his mother to cancer and then they realised that it was just not enough to do CSR as a consultancy company but that they needed a platform and an organised structure from which they can fight the battle and also create awareness, and this gave birth to Bricon Foundation, an outfit which aim is to educate people about cancer.