The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Thinking Pink Breast Cancer Foundation in Sierra Leone, Mrs. Cremelda Pratt, has told a colouful audience that everybody must be reminded that they are at risk of suffering from breast cancer.
She made these remarks last Saturday at the Country Lodge at Hill Station in Freetown, during the Gala and Cultural Evening organised by the Thinking Pink Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
The event attracted various distinguished personalities including Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, Government Officials, heads of parastatals and medical personnel.
She disclosed that cancer is multifaceted and can claim anyone of the human organs.
Mrs. Pratt also urged everybody to put their shoulders to the wheel in the fight against cancer, appealing to them to join them to raise awareness about the dangers posed by cancer and the importance of early detection.
She said she was thankful to all those who had supported them to make the event a memorable one, especially the management of Country Lodge, Africell, the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, Mercury International, Sign Africa, Talking Drum Studio, survivors and well wishers.
In her welcome address, Ms. Nekian Sesay thanked the guests for honouring their invitation.
She said the Thinking Pink Breast Cancer Foundation was launched on the 5th January, 2008 in the form of a health fair.
She revealed that data collected during the health fair was very alarming as from out of 278 participants that were screened, both men and women, 47 had some form of breast abnormality including one male who had myeloma.
Ms. Sesay said that in spite of the shocking discovery about the prevalence and rising trend in the occurrence of breast cancer, the country lacks a well equipped Oncology Unit and the relevant staff to man it affairs, hence the situation of victims of the disease is rendered even worse because they cannot get the proper treatment.
She stressed that it was therefore common to hear about women running to Ghana and other countries to seek medical help, mainly after their conditions have deteriorated and at costs beyond the reach of the common man and woman.
In his presentation, the guest speaker, Dr. Simeon Owizz Koroma, commended the Thinking Pink for their advocacy and awareness raising role.
He said cancer is a hidden killer disease that has claimed the lives of many people in Sierra Leone including her mother.
He revealed that very recently they launched for the first time in Sierra Leone the Cancer Registry of which he is the Registrar.
Dr. Owizz Koroma stated that about one million two hundred thousand people globally are suffering from breast cancer, while in Sierra Leone the disease is on the increase.
He said in Netherlands and the United States of America breast cancer has recorded the highest cases so far while Africa and Asia have recorded the lowest.
He said cancer is more common among women above the age of 50 years or women in their 30s and having had their first child.
He defined breast cancer as a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the breast, grow and divide without control, invade nearby breast tissues, may form a mass called a tumor and may metastasize, or spread, to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Dr. Koroma disclosed that after breast cancer has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out the stage based on the size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread, noting that treatment depends on the stage of the cancer.
In their testimonies, Mrs. Emily Lebbie, a survivor of breast cancer said she suffered greatly from the disease, while Miss Aminata Shamit Koroma displayed horrible pictures of women and men suffering from deplorable conditions of the ailment.
The occasion was chaired by a young Medical Practitioner, Dr. Constance Cummings John while the Sierra Leone National Dance Troupe thrilled the audience with rich cultural performances.