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Key To Combating Breast Cancer

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For prominent Nigerians and celebrities in the country, cancer is no longer an ailment to only imagine. It is one that is currently ravaging their ranks and reducing their numbers.Such was the case of two notable women. One  48-year-old Roseline Ogbemudia, wife of the eldest son of Dr Samuel Ogbemudia, former Governor of Edo State, and  the other victim, a popular socialite and sister of former Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, Evangelist Bimpe Oluwayose-Sorinolu. Roseline and Bimpe both battled breast cancer till death. While the former died in a hospital in India, the latter, died in a London hospital.
From first discovering a tiny growth on the left or  right breast to eventually having the entire section removed through a painful and expensive surgery, life has not been the same for breast cancer survivors. Some of them eventually live from hand to mouth after losing their main source of income and other material assets in the course of battling with their situation. Regrettably, some have  had  their entire physiognomy  changed, virtually looking like the shadow of themselves and in most cases, the wounds  far from healing.. A victim once painfully said, “I wish the day I felt that tiny growth on my breast which I thought was mere fat cyst never came. If  I had known that it was a cancerous lump growing in my breast, I would have paid more attention. Maybe that would have made the difference,”
From the experiences of many women under the breast cancer scourge, the world has refused to renege on its effort at getting the populace more aware of the enigma and how to combat it. In a couple of days from now, the Gregorian calender would turn its back on October, the 10th month of the year. But even though it be gone, the month ‘October’, has so much to be remembered of. For women  across the globe the awareness created about ‘breast cancer’, cannot be forgotten in a hurry. For once, the phobia  they have had over the years of the monster called breast cancer, as a  death sentence is doused down. Now it is crystal clear that  breast cancer though  a traumatic health challenge, is curable.
In  pursuance of this cause, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State,  appealed to government at all levels, politicians and philanthropists to provide free Chemotherapy Centres in the State. The association made the appeal during the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign organised in partnership with Engraced Life Foundation in Port Harcourt.
In  a statement by the  Chairperson, Mrs Susan Serekara-Nwikhana and Secretary, Dr Ngozi Anosike,  the body demanded that cancer treatments be made free so that everyone suffering from it can have access to free test and treatment, pointing out that such gesture will go a long way in reducing preventable deaths caused by cancer.
Maintaining that early detection saves lives, NAWOJ enumerated the importance of self breast examination so as to be able to detect lumps in the breast that might likely cause cancer and advised women to see their doctors once a lump is detected on any part of the breast.
The association observed with dismay that most of the women screened for free during the breast cancer awareness campaign in the State are suffering from breast cancer, but lack access to treatment due to poverty.
It expressed belief that establishment of free chemotherapy and cancer treatment centres in different locations in the state would reduce to the barest minimum the death of women who suffer from the deadly disease. The association,   in collaboration with Engraced Life Foundation,  embarked on some form of community outreach  to some communities within the state. Women in the visited communities had their vital signs examined,  and blood sugar tested..Thousands of women were screened for free, given medications especially  for the minor diagnosis while serious cases were referred to  concologists for further investigations and possible treatments.
Breast cancer, a disease that is characterised by the abnormal growth of cells in the breast (CDC, 2020). is the most common malignant disorder affecting women and the leading cause of death among them (Bray et al., 2004). The most common sign of breast cancer is a lump or thickening in the breast – but there are other symptoms too.They include:Change in size or feel of the breast,  Changes in the skin of the breast, such as dimpling or redness.Fluid leaking from the nipple, outside of pregnancy or breast feeding. Change in position of the nipple.These symptoms can be caused by other conditions any way.
Breast cancer  is characterised by cells lining the duct turning into cancerous cells but not spreading into nearby breast tissue through the walls of the duct. Ts is an early stage of breast cancer, most women having it can be cured.. Invasive Breast Cancer spread into surrounding breast. Most breast cancers fall into this category but the two most common types are invasive ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells lining the milk duct, and invasive lobular carcinoma, which begins in the lobules of the breast.Triple-negative breast cancer is a type of cancer where the cancer cells do not have estrogen or progesterone receptors and also makes little of the HER2 protein. It grows and spreads faster than other forms of invasive breast cancer and accounts for about 10-15 per cent of all breast cancers.
The fourth is . Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) – IBC occurs as a result of cancer cells blocking the lymph vessels in the skin and therefore making the breast look inflamed. It is a rare form of breast cancer and accounts for only about 1-5% of all breast cancers.  Paget disease of the Breast  is a type of cancer that affects the nipples and areola of the breast. It is a rare form of breast cancer and usually only affects one breast. The majority of cases are found along with ductal carcinoma in situ or invasive ductal carcinoma. Angiosarcoma of the Breast. This rare type of breast cancer begins in the cells lining blood and lymph vessels. It is said to often be the result of complications of previous breast radiation treatment and tends to grow and spread rapidly.
Phyllodes Tumor. This is a tumor that develops in the connective tissue of the breast. It is a rare form of breast cancer and mostly occurs in women in their 40s. Most phyllodes tumors are  benign but 25 per cent are malignant.
In the case of Nigerian women, breast cancer tends to be diagnosed at an advanced stage and the chances of survival are low (Adebamowo & Adekunle, 1999, Ihekwaba, 1992). Women in the country are also more frequently diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer than women of European ancestry (Huo et al., 2009), with cases occurring at a much younger age (Adesunkanmi et al., 2006). As a result of the late presentation of the disease, the only options available are expensive treatment procedures, which may be unaffordable for the average Nigerian woman.
Though there is a high incidence of breast cancer in Nigeria, studies have shown that the majority of Nigerian women, both in rural and urban areas possess little or no knowledge about risk factors and symptoms of the disease (Motilewa et al., 2015, Olayide et al., 2017). In cases where women are aware of these, there is hesitation in seeking healthcare which results in untimely death. Religious, economic and socio-cultural factors have been shown to play a part in women’s attitude towards the disease (George et al., 2019, Pruitt et al., 2014). There is also a lack of knowledge on breast self-examinations (BSE) and who should conduct them, especially in rural areas (Nwaneri et al., 2016, Oladimeji et al., 2015).
Late Mrs Beatrice Mensah Osae, the beloved mother of AhmazingGrace Baaba Danso, was diagnosed in 2011 when she discovered a tumor in her left breast which grew bigger to the point it became inoperable. It burst and became an open sore on her chest and ate away at her breast even claiming her nipple. She had three chemo treatments which weakened her greatly till she switched to homeopathic treatment. This helped her regain her strength a bit but ultimately she succumbed to the disease and passed in September 2016. .
With the high incidence and mortality rate associated with breast cancer in low and middle income countries like Nigeria, there is a need for efforts to be made to create more awareness about the disease, especially among uneducated women and proper structures for early detection. With proper education of women in both rural and urban areas and affordable screening programmes developed, the chances of survival can be increased. Policies on the breast cancer detection and care also need to be developed and disseminated to aid healthcare workers make informed decisions.
Above all,  early diagnosis  which has been proven to improve survival chances, should be encouraged especially through the use of the media to spread the message of breast cancer, its  signs and symptoms, causes as well as management procedures.

By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

 

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Women And Climate Change

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Naturally, when climate change occurs, the most affected are women and children. If it has to do with relocation from their original settlements or domains, the fear of “where do we go” comes to mind. They also consider the fact that once they leave where they are, especially to an unknown place, something funny and harmful may affect their lives. This also can cause them a lot of trauma.
Climate Change like flood, has caused a lot of havoc to women whose occupation mostly is farming, fishing inclusive and trading. When flooding occurs, their farms where they get farm produce are affected and even markets where to sell become a problem.
When situations like this occurs, definitely poverty sets in since their source of livelihood becomes affected. When their farms are affected, feeding their families, especially the widows becomes difficult.
Of course when flooding occurs, it goes beyond the normal rivers where some women who are engaged in fishing business get their daily bread. Anybody who engages in daily agricultural business and is being denied that even, per day is bound to run into financial problem.
Cases of flooding which have occured in many parts of Nigeria, especially the coastal regions is unpredictable weather patterns which should be looked into.
During the period, you have less food, decreasing access to safe water. Living conditions become more difficult. In Internally Displaced Camps (IDPs), food and materials donated and distributed are not always enough. In this case, women and girls who need good water for sanitation suffer.
When droughts occur as a result of flood, women have poor harvest.
During evacuation, a lot happen to women and girls who may be observing their “monthly visitor”.
When we talk about climate change, we are not just talking about changing of the weather, it’s consequences on humans, especially on women and children on a daily basis are something anybody cannot joke with. They struggle to survive and recover.
Women suffer more due to inequalities and discrimination because of gender. Discrimination among women and girls tend to multiply when disasters occur as they are forced to succumb to all demands, especially rape.
From the recent flooding in some of the coastal villages in the country, we know that climate change-related crises are already instigating deep, life-altering changes for some of the poorest and most marginalised women and girls in the world.
Increased risk of violence against women and girls. In a camp for displaced people, a girl who was just 15 and her sister 19, lie awake at night listening to any sounds that may alert them to men walking into their makeshift shelter which has no proper doors. Some nights they don’t sleep at all for fear of being attacked.
When one of them was interviewed, it was a new reality. “I feel insecure because we have a very poor shelter. Sometimes, the thieves come in and try to harm us. It’s so scary… the thieves don’t want to take any material things, they want to harm women. So, that’s why they don’t look for our things. They just want to attack women”, she said.
As a result women and girls may be forced to migrate to camps for displaced people where living under temporary tarps or bare plastic sheets can expose them to violence from strangers.
Another girl, who was 14, said she was also forced to move into a camp after her house flooded in a small village in one of the coastal villages.
According to her, “in the night I cannot sleep. There was no door. Just a plastic sheet was above our heads. My mother never slept. She was worried for me and my sister.”
There is increased risk of child marriage. When the floods hit one village two years ago, a girl suddenly had to face the prospect of getting married at the tender age of 14. Her parents were struggling after they lost everything in the floods and they felt that marriage into another family would keep her well-fed and safe.
In her words: “Because of poverty parents marry off their daughters like me at a very early age. I cannot go to school since I got married. Life is tough for girls of young age in the village.”
When a disaster strikes, girls can be more vulnerable to child marriage than usual. In some places they are considered an extra burden in times of crisis.
For poor families who have lost their homes and livelihoods, child marriage can be seen as a ticket out of, or at least, a way to diminish the effects of crippling poverty, whilst also ensuring the perceived security of their daughters from violence.
When floods occur, girls are more likely to miss classes or drop out of school.
In small rural villages, some girls clutched their books tightly as they wade their way through knee-high water to get to school everyday. Sometimes, they miss their first classes even though they love going to school and adore their books.
You discover that after the floods some years, while their parents go out to struggle to make up for the lost period, their workload at home increased. They will start to help their mothers more at home by looking after their younger ones, fetching water and doing the household grocery shop at the local markets.
In times of crises, girls are often forced to drop out of school or miss classes because household chores become a strain with fewer family members available to share the pressures at home. Girls are often enlisted to take care of family members, or to help with domestic chores such as cooking, cleaning or finding water, and school is considered a lower priority in times of need.
Sometimes whole schools are destroyed in a crisis or even closed for long periods of time. A girl was interviewed about her feelings missing school during the period and she said: ” I love to go to school and never miss or not attend… (but) last one month our school was closed because of flood. I felt bad and missed…school so much.”
Increased risk of death and injury are possible
25-year-old girl narrated how difficult survival during the floods is. “My sister was pregnant and she delivered in the middle of water. There was no help and I was with her….pregnant mothers cannot swim this distance and often tend to stay in the house which is more dangerous”, she explained.
Marginalised women and girls, the disabled and the elderly are more vulnerable to death and injury in the face of a natural disaster.
Due to their traditional given roles as caretakers, women and girls often stay back in a disaster to protect their children or adults in their care while men sometimes escape.
Not only that but deeply ingrained social norms sometimes dictate that women and girls sometimes have to wait on permission from the men in the household to leave their houses. In some places, women are also often unable to escape when caught by sudden floods or other disasters as they are not encouraged to learn to swim.
It effects on the availability of food and chances of earning a living is worrisome.
Imagine that you live in a pastoral or farming community and the food you eat every day comes from the crops you grow daily or the livestock you rear for milk, meat or for selling in return for cash.
Now imagine the same land you rely on slowly dries out or gets inundated with water and destroys a season’s worth of crops.
This is the reality facing many young women, from the coastal villages. A 20-year-old mother, Abigail was part of a pastoralist family that owned several animals which they reared for their food and income.
Years of climate change-related drought, dried out her land and killed off all the livestock, leaving her family without any food or money to survive. At the same time, her husband took her children and abandoned her.
In her words: Our life was so good because we had our livestock. We used to eat, drink milk, sell [the animals], make butter… it’s so painful when you have a small baby and you have nothing.”
In many rural communities, men control the income in their households. Women who rely on men for economic support are left struggling in times of crisis when men either abandon their families, or leave to look for work elsewhere or are even killed by natural disasters.
Women in rural communities have limited access to and ownership of their land as well which directly impacts the food they have available to eat.
“We lost our crops. Our small goat died in the flood water. Cows are sick. My children suffered a lot during flood. Now we have no crop in our storage. I, along (with) my husband have to work in people’s fields to bring food (to) our table. Life is becoming harder every year after floods”, she said.
Government at every level should support and provide women and girls around the world with food, water, survival kits and safe toilets so that they can survive the climate change affecting their lives when they occur.
Efforts should be made by relevant authorities to ensure that women and girls are safe in IDP camps and adequate arrangements should be made before evacuation.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

 

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Walk-For-Life: Opobo/Nkoro Women Drum Support For Fubara

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The beautiful women of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, last Saturday, took a unity walk tagged, “A SIMple walk for life” in celebration of God’s faithfulness for the peaceful coexistence of the people, while thanking God for the emergence of their son, brother and father, Sir Siminialayi Fubara as the Rivers State’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) standard bearer for the 2023 general election.
The unity walk, a SIM-ple exercise to SIM-plify the fitness status of Opobo/Nkoro women and girls, led by Mrs Sotonye Toby Fulton, had in attendance wife of Amanyanabo of Opobo Kingdom, Queen Prudence Dandeson Douglas Jaja; women and girls from the 11 political wards of Opobo/Nkoro.
Speaking at the event, Mrs Sotonye Toby Fulton, described the exercise as “a walk for good health, walk for life, and walk in appreciation of the emergence of the Rivers State PDP standard bearer for the 2023 general election, Sir Siminialayi Fubara.
While addressing the cheering crowd, Dame Victoria Sergeant Awuse, appreciated the Amanyanabo’s wife, Fulton, former member, House of Representatives, Hon Blessing Nsiegbe, for initiating the programme.
She further hinted that the exercise would move to all LGAs of the state, and thanked the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for adequately carrying women along in his administration.
Mrs Awuse said that every fitness exercise promotes healthy growth, good health as well as builds a happy family.
She prayed for the victory of Fubara and all PDP candidates in the 2023 elections, and charged the women to “Unite for SIM, get your PVC and vote Sir Siminialayi Fubara.”
Also speaking, the former PHALGA Federal Constituency 2 House of Representatives member, Hon Blessing Nsiegbe, expressed gratitude to the people of Opobo/Nkoro for recognising her contributions to the development of the state.
In her remarks, Queen Prudence Dandeson Douglas Jaja, advised the women not to end the exercise at Opobo with one-day outing, but to continue with the exercise going forward and vote rightly.
She advised Opobo women to vote for Sir Siminialayi Fubara and all PDP candidates.
The king’s wife thanked the organisers and the beautiful women and girls of Opobo/Nkoro for colourful event, and wished that the activity could be a quarterly exercise.
“Opobo/Nkoro women, vote and protect your vote,” she added.
The Leader of Opobo Welfare Women Association, Amaopuorubo Felicia Pepple, assured that Opobo women were mountain movers and would vote massively and defend their votes for Sir Siminialayi Fubara and all PDP candidates come 2023.
Vice Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area, Hon Ifeoma Rejoice Nyenwe, while speaking with the press, expressed joy at the impactful event, and appreciated the organisers of the event with special thanks to Governor Nyesom Wike, Sir Siminialayi Fubara and Mrs Sotonye Toby Fulton for the opportunity of gathering women for the special fitness exercise.
At the thanksgiving service conducted by Pastor Martins Achi, praised God for the opportunity to worship Him.
The service was filled with prayers for victory of Sir Siminialayi Fubara and all PDP candidates.
The thanksgiving praises had the 11 wards dancing and praising God in a procession manner as Peter Stonecold led the praises.
Speaking with the press after the thanksgiving service, Opobo/Nkoro Council Boss, Hon Enyiada Cookey-Gam, noted that thanksgiving was the only sure way to ask God for more.
He said, “Opobo/Nkoro women have gathered today in thanksgiving to the Most High God for life, peace and everything we are enjoying as a peaceful people. I’m happy and thanking our Golden Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, who has given us a wonderful platform to perform, and the emergence of an Opobo/Nkoro son as the standard bearer of our great party, Sir Siminialayi Fubara. Opobo/Nkoro people will forever remain thankful”.
Cookey-Gam; Opobo/Nkoro LGA Peoples Democratic Party Chairman, Hon Godwin Manfred Pepple; the Vice Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area, Hon Ifeoma Rejoice Nyenwe; Dame Victoria Sergeant Awuse; former CTC Mayor of Port Harcourt City LGA, Hon Orukwem Amadi Oparaeli; were among dignitaries that graced the exercise.
The highlight of the walk was a 20-minute aerobics class conducted by Coach Oge Arima.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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Women And Artificial Beauty

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Looking good is some women’s business.  Looking beautiful for some persons is more important than food. Some prefer to appear trendy instead of attending to household pressure.
Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Every woman by creature is beautiful but some persons feel that the way they were created is not enough. They feel that perhaps the creator should have added more features to their physique.
Artificial beauty did not start today, it has been there as far as man exists.  From time to time, there has been one form of additional make-up or the other that women especially, must add to their natural look.
When you look at some of our elders, especially women, you notice certain drills or symbols (tattoo) on their skins, mostly on their hands and legs, in form of designs with dark prints. That is a form of artificial beauty. These days, some young ones still use such to beautify themselves.
It is not only women that are involved in artificial beauty, some young men also have likeness for it.  It is common nowadays to see younger male folks spend money to pierce their ears to wear earrings.  They also style their hairs in various forms to appear like women so as to look more handsome. This, no doubt, costs them more money than being in their natural look.
Every generation grows with it’s own new systems, items, styles of artificial beauty.  Before now, African women generally and Nigeria in particular had their hair in natural form.
As civilisation and westernisation continued, Nigerian women started copying, for instance, perming of their hair to look like the white women.  They started using western-produced chemicals (relaxers) to make their hairs look sleepy and smoother.
Nigerian women used to plait their hair with black thread or go with their hair well cut at low level. In terms of weaving, it was without attachment. The issue of women weaving hair with attachment came with civilisation. That is also a form of make-up.
The quest for extra beauty aside the way women were created has been from one generation to another.
Two or three decades ago, ladies used mascaras to darken and thicken their eyelashes.  But in this 21st century, another system has evolved.  Fixing of artificial eyelashes has become the order of the day.
In that case, it becomes difficult for them to scratch their eyes incase of any itches. Some of their eyes turn reddish because of the touch.
There was a lady who was fixing her eyelashes in a salon, unfortunately, she got a phone call that her mother was late. As she started crying, it was difficult for her to clean the tears that were flowing down her cheeks.
The reason was for fear of the eye lashes falling off while cleaning the tears off her eyes.
One funny thing about fixing of artificial eyelashes is that some persons cannot close their eyes properly.  The beauty they have in mind before fixing is not really achieved as their look become something anybody cannot behold.  Both the shape of their eyes and facial outlook automatically change.  One begins to wonder if that is the beauty they are looking for.  Instead of looking beautiful, the reverse is the case.
As years go by, artificial beauty becomes more sophisticated in the society. The price and cost for looking more beautiful than women were created naturally becomes higher than their natural look.
The cosmetic industry becomes one of the most viable industries worldwide because some women desire artificial beauty.  Some engage in cosmetic surgery to alter any part of their body which does not give them pleasure especially the fatty parts.  Some go for surgery to make their slacked breasts to return to their original shapes as well as those with big tummies.
It is interesting to note that currently, Nigerian ladies have started to give preference to their natural hair and this is attracting a lot of admiration for them. Many prefer that natural look with low cuts. With that, the cost of maintaining the hair by ladies is reduced.
I think this is commendable as it will save the women from the negative effect of chemical used in manufacturing hair relaxers.
It  is also common to see ladies on  low cut hairs that are either light complexion, red and other funny colours.
People have been addicted to artificial beauty to the extent that they insert certain substances into their bodies to make them become more robust and attractive to their admirers.
I don’t understand why we should be crazy about adding more to our natural look.  Every woman wants to look attractive in a packaged manner without recognising the implications of artificial beauty and make-up.
In fact, women’s quest for beauty has taken different dimension as they tend to appear trendy at home, in offices and as they go about their businesses.  That is just to feel belonged and achieve self-esteem.
I recall a few years back, my pastor who trained as an engineer advised women against the use of lipstick.  He said that one of the chemical components of lipstick is lead and that it is dangerous to humans. Many women may not understand the reality of what he said until it manifests.
I think those who are naturally beautiful should not go for artificial make-ups. They should be satisfied with the work of their creator.  Women should not continue to paint their faces to look like masquerades and should not lose value due to artificial beauty.
It may interest you to know that persons who apply make-ups excessively are mocked instead of being admired.  Make-ups can be applied lightly.
Fixing of nails is another business. After fixing nails, some women find it difficult to perform house cores. Washing their personal belongings becomes a problem. The artificial nails become so long and sophisticated to the extent that the bearer cannot handle objects properly. Those in that habit also find it difficult to eat food with the fingers.
There are people who feel they should have been born in certain colour but when the reverse is the case, they seek artificial make-up.  Use of skin-toning cream and soap becomes the option for artificial beauty, to the extent that the users start having dark spots on the skin. Blisters occur on their faces and legs.
Unfortunately, this is an era when there are different kinds of cancer affecting women especially.  It becomes difficult to identify the kind of make-up that can be cancerous.
It is high time people stopped following trend to the detriment of their health.
Ladies should not present themselves as laughing stock with unnecessary make-up as they can still be cherished in their natural outlook.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

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