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Saluting Our Cancer Heroes And Supporting The Fight

The cancer awareness movement is growing from strength to strength in Fiji. Figures from the Fiji Cancer Registry suggest they have to. In a study conducted from 2002-2005 in Fiji,
01 Nov 2014 16:57
Saluting Our Cancer Heroes And Supporting The Fight
Guests during Pinktober tea at The Pearl South Pacific Resort at Pacific Harbour. Photo: Rama

The cancer awareness movement is growing from strength to strength in Fiji. Figures from the Fiji Cancer Registry suggest they have to.

In a study conducted from 2002-2005 in Fiji, the prevalence of cancer per 100,000 persons was looked at.

For the given period, there were 4609 cases of cancer.  (1485 males and 3124 females).

The leading cancers among males were lymphoid and haemopoietic (12.6 per cent of male cases), prostate (12.5 per cent of male cases), liver (9 per cent), and lung (6.1 per cent).

Among females the leading cancer sites were the cervix (22.5 per cent of female cases), breast (20 per cent), uterus (7.2 per cent) and ovary (5.8 per cent).  According to commentators, these levels may not be comparable to other countries, like Australia and New Zealand.

However, no one should be complacent. A grassroots movement of sorts has been able to raise awareness and cash for dealing with cancer in Fiji.

One of the most prominent, Walk on Walk Strong (WOWS), was inspired by the story of 15-year-old  Tae Kami. The little Tongan lass succumbed to a rare cancer of the jaw, that meant costly specialised treatment in New Zealand in 2006.

Her character and love of life not only inspired the King of Tonga and a kingdom but also the whole of the Pacific. She eventually passed away in 2008. Her parents, Taholo and Sina, who live in Suva decided to create a foundation that would continue to raise awareness and support cancer patients, in memory of their daughter.

WOWS Kids (Fiji) recently completed a fundraising walk around Viti Levu, along with Eteuati Ete, one of the Laughing Samoans. Other features of the public campaign include Pinktober events with corporate donors and members of the public raising money  to support cancer awareness and treatment.

Tourism Industry tycoon YP Reddy is one of the local Fijians champions of the cancer awareness cause.  As chairman of the Tanoa Hotel Group he has endorsed a memorandum of understanding between his organisation and the Fiji Cancer Society, to back the fight against cancer.

One of the effects of the awareness campaigns is that cancer is treated as something serious, and not just the subject of banter around the grog bowl. Like AIDS education and NCD’s (non-communicable diseases), being able to talk frankly, especially within a family context, goes a long way to addressing the issues.

One wonders whether the higher detection rate amongst women is because they are more likely to acknowledge the symptoms and undergo treatment.   Talking about the state of one’s prostate, is somewhat disconcerting for the ‘regular guy.’

Developing a culture of openness amongst males should be priority for stakeholders, particularly within the faith communities, that may be inclined to stigmatise patients.

As YP Reddy himself put it: ““The sooner one knows, something can be done and someone’s life can be saved. It is about detecting, treating and curing.”  We salute you, Mr Reddy. Now that’s the way forward for cancer awareness in Fiji.

Feedback:  josuat@fijisun.com.fj

 




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