My name is Lynne Omar and I have spent many years as a therapy radiographer in the UK. A therapy radiographer works in a radiotherapy department where high energy X-ray equipment is used to treat Cancer. Several years ago, I joined a research team in Kings College London, University, looking at promoting early presentation of Breast Cancer in elderly women. More recently, I have become an independent research radiographer and decided to volunteer with a Breast Cancer charity – Cancel Cancer Africa.
Cancel Cancer Africa (CCA) is a small charity run by a gentleman called Ronnie Jacobs. Ronnie has been organising Breast Cancer Awareness trips to Africa since 2009 and has visited several communities in Nigeria and Ghana. The aim of CCA is to inform women in Africa about the signs, symptoms and breast changes that could indicate that a woman has Breast Cancer. Armed with this information they are then encouraged to go to see a doctor as soon as possible. The information is given out during road shows and women are invited to attend for a breast examination.
Many women in Africa have little or no knowledge of Breast Cancer and often the little knowledge that they do have, is inaccurate. This lack of knowledge results in women presenting to a doctor with advanced disease, which is untreatable.
Many countries in Africa have limited or no oncology treatments available. There is some chemotherapy available and even less radiotherapy. Cancer is predominantly a disease of old age and as treatments become available to prolong people's lives, the incidence of Cancer will increase. Currently, the incidence of cancer in Africa is low in comparison to the Western world but sadly from this low incidence there is a high level of morbidity and many people die with advanced disease rarely seen in the West.
The aim of CCA is multifold as it aims to go out into the rural African communities and give out information, to women, about the breast changes to look out for that could possibly be Breast Cancer. It also works with the local doctors and nurses to offer breast examinations and teaches women how to examine their own breasts. CCA also works with the local Health Ministers in the areas that it visits and this collaborative working brings Cancer onto the local health minister's agenda. Media coverage of the visits also highlights the problems that Cancer care faces in the rural communities and generally raises the level of Cancer awareness. CCA also aims to ensure that the Breast Cancer awareness initiative has sustainability by teaching local doctors and nurses to give out the correct information to women.
I know that many people who are reading this article are probably involved in End Of Life (EOL) care and look after patients who have advanced late stage disease. I am sure that every single one of you look forward to the day that women are given enough information and that the screening facilities are available to them, eliminating the situation where women present with advanced untreatable disease. CCA is a small charity with a huge and important task and that is to prevent children losing their mothers and families losing their sisters, aunts and grandparents.
CCA is visiting Busia County in Kenya from the 15th – 28th September 2014 and intends to visit South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria in 2015. The charity is currently fundraising to purchase a portable ultrasound machine, which it will use to make a differential diagnosis between benign breast disease and breast Cancer.
If you would like to support or sponsor this extremely valuable work then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. www.cancelcancerafrica.org