“We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself, the means of inspiration and survival.” – Winston Churchill
“I wanted to hear so bad that my daughter’s cancer was gone and when I didn’t, it hurts me bad. I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my family the results without breaking down. I honestly just wanted to shut down from everyone. But I understand that blessings don’t happen when we want them to, they happen when they are supposed to. So we are going to keep faith and keep fighting no matter what. #LeahStrong#BeatCancer.”
These were the strong words of hope NFL’s Devon Still shared with friends and fans on his instagram page some weeks ago. Devon’s 4-year old daughter, the ever radiant Leah, was diagnosed of neuroblastoma in June 2014 and after six months of constant treatment, the cancer sadly still refused to let the poor girl be.
On the 7th June, 2014, Nigerians woke up to the sad exit of one whom the Times magazine listed in 2006 among the eighteen heroes of our time, one who’d only the previous year emerged as Silverbird’s person of the year. The independent source reported that Dora Akunyili, a Professor of Pharmacy and former DG of NAFDAC, died of complications arising from uterine cancer. According to an unnamed relative, she’d visited the US in 2013 to undergo what she thought would be a routine check-up when a hysterectomy found out she had a malignant endometrial cancer. Another family source stated that despite undergoing surgery to remove the tumour, the cancer was of such malignant state that it resisted therapy.
Nesta Robert Marley popular as Bob Marley, a distinctive song writer, guitarist and vocalist most popular for being a committed Rastafarian, who infused his music with a deep sense of spirituality died on the 11th of May 1981 (aged 36) from Metastatic melanoma. It had begun in July 1977 when he was found to have a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe. Marley turned down the doctor’s advice to have his toe amputated citing religious beliefs. In a tour in Pennsylvania three years later, his health had deteriorated and the cancer had spread throughout his body. His final words to his son Ziggy were “Money can’t buy life”.
In a eulogy to Marleyduring his final funeral, Edward Seaga, the then Prime minister declared: “His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks and prancing style a vivid etching in the landscape of our minds. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind”.
On February 16, 2013, three times Golden globe winner and Forbes’ highest paid Hollywood actress Angelina Voight Jolie underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer due to defective BRCA1 gene. Her mother had died from ovarian cancer in 2007 while her maternal grandmother had died at 45 from ovarian cancer. Her maternal aunt Debbie Martin who had the same defective gene as Jolie died months back from breast cancer. Jolie’s double mastectomy lowered her chances of developing breast cancer to under 5%. On April 27, 2014, Jolie underwent a reconstructive surgery involving implants and allograft. An oophorectomy is on the cards for Jolie who still has 50% risk of developing ovarian cancer due to the same genetic anomaly.
Speaking about her mastectomy, she said: “I choose not to keep my story private because there are many more women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested and that if they have high risks they, too will know that they have strong options”.
In the 2014 publication from the American Cancer Society researchers, over 15 million adults and children with the history of cancer are alive and an increase to over 19 million is predicted by 2024.
Lifestyle changes have been shown to make a big difference in cancer risk reduction. Avoiding tobacco and alcohol, eating healthy diet (high fibre fruits and vegetables and low red and unprocessed meat and salt), maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active, protecting self from sun and excessive UV radiation and undergoing regular examinations and screenings for various cancer types as it increases chances of early discovery when treatment is most likely successful.
Famous cancer quotes:
- “Cancer is a word, not a sentence” – John Diamon.
- “Time is shortening. But every day I challenge this cancer and survive is a victory for me” – Ingrid Bergman.
- “We have two options, medically and emotionally: Give up or fight like hell” – Lance Armstrong.
- “Hope is the physician of each misery”- Irish proverb.
- “Cancer affects all of us, whether you are a daughter, mother, sister, friend, co-worker, doctor or patient” – Jennifer Aniston.
- “You can be a victim of cancer, or a survivor of cancer. It is a mind-set”- Dave Pelzer.