Betty Akeredolu, the wife of the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu has said that the major way women can defeat the scourge of breast cancer among ladies between the ages of 18 and 20 is to check their breasts regularly.
Akeredolu, who is the Founder, Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), declared that breast cancer was not a death sentence, as many people believed.
She stated this while speaking at the launch of Ondo State chapter of BRECAN.
According to her, with good medical care, the disease could be controlled.
The first lady, who has been suffering from cancer of the breast herself for 20 years, said women needed proper sensitization and awareness on the control of breast cancer, hence the formation of the association.
She said: “Breast cancer can be controlled if it is discovered early enough. Therefore, it is very important for ladies and women to check their breasts regularly. They also need good knowledge of the disease and awareness on its control. Cancer of the breast is not a death sentence.
“Those with breast cancer can live well. I discovered that I have breast cancer 20 years ago and here I am today looking as if nothing is wrong in my system.
“The treatment of the disease is no longer expensive, especially if it is discovered early, However, many hospitals in the country lack medical experts who specialise in the treatment of the disease.”
She added that facilities needed for the treatment of breast cancer were not available in many of the health centres, while noting that many patients of breast cancer were made to suffer in the hands of medical practitioners due to the non-availability of facilities and drugs required for the treatment of the disease, a situation she bemoaned.
While calling on the Federal Ministry of Health to include the control of breast cancer in the ministry’s yearly budget, Akeredolu observed: “Nigerian government has not done well in the control of cancer of the breast.”
She said there was no appropriation for the control of cancer in the budget of the Ministry of Health, adding that the situation had made the treatment of the deadly disease cumbersome in many of the government hospitals in the country.
Her words: “I got to know of the disease at the age of 42 because of lack of awareness. I have been living healthy since then till now. Breast cancer is predominantly woman’s disease, but there is nothing that affects women that does not affect men too.
“It is essential for the society to pay attention to the disease, which is seriously ravaging and killing women almost daily. As a survivor of cancer with 20 years experience of the disease, I can authoritatively say that breast cancer is not a death sentence. With breast cancer a woman can live long provided she takes care of herself.
“It is not something that should be hidden. We need adequate information about the disease and we need to let everyone knows about it. There is no reason for anyone to discriminate against any cancer patient. With prompt medical attention, life is guaranteed for patients.”
She urged women to check their breasts regularly and make necessary observations on the breasts, even as she called on husbands to assist their wives in checking their breasts regularly and in case any lump is found, they should take necessary medical steps immediately.