Mary Ekah
Last Saturday, February 4 was another World Cancer Day, when organisations and individuals around the world unite to raise awareness on cancer. It has been established that every year, over 8 million people die from cancer worldwide, out of which 4 million people die prematurely.

World Cancer Day, therefore, is the ideal opportunity to spread the word and raise awareness on cancer in people’s minds. One of such organisation that marked the occasion in Nigeria was the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), founded by the wife of Ondo State governor-elect, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu.

Revealing how she survived the dreaded disease, cancer, years ago and how she came to establish her foundation, BRECAN, the first lady, whose husband, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN, was recently elected governor of Ondo State, recalled that the family support she received gave her the strength to pull through.

Speaking during an event to mark the 2017 World Cancer Day on the theme ‘Cancer: Prevention, Control and Community Participation’, Anyanwu -Akeredolu, said, “I had the family support. My husband stood by me all the way. That kind of support will see you through.” At the event attended by hundreds of participants, Mrs. Akeredolu emphasised that, community participation is very important to win the fight against cancer. “We must take all that we’ve heard in this programme to the next level. More often than not, we don’t act on information. This must change. I’m challenging you all to put into use all you learned here.

I am expecting a healthy rivalry among communities. We must together find solution to this problem. Stop waiting for government officials to tell us we have a problem. We are the one to pressure them to act. We must collectively pressure government to come up with strategies to end the challenge of cancer,” she noted. She urged traditional leaders, community leaders, youths, traders, students and other stakeholders to come together to get the job done. “Let me add that when we collaborate, we will achieve more. For instance, unity will help secure grants. Each community must engage in regular sensitisation, get data, share ideas, and hold rallies and other forms of enlightenment.”

She was corroborated by the Eyesorun of Akure, wife of the Deji of Akure Kingdom, Olori Abimbola Aladetoyinbo who read the goodwill message of Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi while Dr. Olumide Aladesuru who spoke in both Yoruba and English outlined while understanding how to deal with cancer is a major step in defeating the disease. In his remark, the Deputy Governor-elect, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, who represented the Governor-elect, stated that the programme has saved lives over the years.

He thanked everyone in attendance and assured that the incoming administration will assist BRECAN and other associations involved in similar campaign. While using the opportunity to invite the audience to the inauguration of Mr. Akeredolu and himself as Ondo State Governor and Deputy on February 24, Ajayi said, “We can and we will do it. We will defeat cancer. Our administration will develop a world-class health policy that will ensure our people stay healthy. We will reciprocate this in all sectors. I assure you of the support of the incoming government in every possible way.”