Over the years cancer cases has steadily increased in Fiji and in 2017 alone an estimated 1,544 people were diagnosed with this disease.
This was revealed during the Pinktober awareness morning tea hosted by the University of the South Pacific (USP) Lautoka Campus on October 25.
One of the speakers, Fiji Cancer Society board member Margaret Rounds, said the main culprits leading to cancer in Fiji are smoking, alcohol and dietary abuses.
Ms Rounds said that their organization currently works and partners with various corporate and non-governmental organizations and the Ministry of Health to educate the public on cancers through promotions, awareness and counselling.
She pointed out that this is all part of Fiji Cancer Society’s preventative measures by providing knowledge, education, diagnosis, treatment, support and hope.
She revealed that funds raised from Pinktober, Bushells Fiji’s Biggest Morning Tea and November last year were directed towards patient care support which included transportation, purchase of consumables and medication, freight for their prostatic bars, personal hygiene packs, community outreach programs, procurement of diagnostic equipment, consumables for oncology units at CWM and Lautoka hospitals, home visitation care packs and administration costs.
In her welcome address, USP Lautoka Campus Director Dr Pramila Devi said that the USP Lautoka staff and students were honoured to host the Pinktober awareness to provide a helping hand to the Fiji Cancer Society to assist cancer patients in the country.
Dr Devi acknowledged the excellent work carried out by the Fiji Cancer Society and its western branch.
She emphasized that because cancer is becoming a very common disease in our country it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to create more awareness so that people are able to detect the deadly pandemic in its early stages and get cured.
The campus director also urged cancer survivors present at the event to be strong in fighting the disease and play a pivotal role in furthering the awareness on cancer treatment.
Private Medical Practitioner Dr Nahima Naaz advised all women present at the campus to examine their breasts once a month and if they find anything abnormal immediately see a doctor, get Pap smear test done every 2-3 years for cervical cancer and eat healthy and exercise regularly to protect themselves from deadly diseases such as cancer.
She reiterated that women, despite their busy schedule should take out time for themselves and get examined immediately if they find anything abnormal in their body.
Sharing her experience, cancer survivor Sharon Mar revealed that she was lucky to get detected early and undergo the treatment process.
Ms Mar emphasized that women witnessing any abnormality in their body should not waste any time and seek medical attention immediately.
Another speaker, Iloi Rabuka, who is a Nurse Coordinator at the UPSM Medical School and also a midwife and a Public Health Nurse, spoke about her experiences with cancer patients and also shared her thoughts on what we as individuals and healthcare professionals could do to help these patients.
Ms. Rabuka said family members, nurses and other healthcare professionals should go that extra mile in looking after cancer patients given how sensitive and vulnerable they are. She said they should make genuine effort to talk to them or just hear them out to cheer them up and let them know that they are not alone.