Cancer Month focuses on breast testing

Si’uomatautu Tapelu (nurse), SCS executive members Amanda Lam and Suzie Hillier; Mealofa Matai’a (nurse) and SCS  executive officer La-Toya Lee.

Si’uomatautu Tapelu (nurse), SCS executive members Amanda Lam and Suzie Hillier; Mealofa Matai’a (nurse) and SCS
executive officer La-Toya Lee.

BY Alan Ah Mu

APIA: THURSDAY 10 OCTOBER 2013: Check your breasts. Males and females. If anything is out of the ordinary see a fofo or traditional healer if you must but immediately also a doctor.

The urgent message comes from the Samoa Cancer Society as efforts to educate and raise awareness in the community as part of October being the Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“Do both always,” said La-Toya Lee, Executive Officer of Samoa Cancer Society (SCS).

Breast Self-Examination (BSE) is vital. If what is discovered is not cancer it could be something else, said Ms. Lee. Delays in seeing a doctor is fatal.

Contrast that to awareness of breast cancer which leads to BSE and early detection and early treatment.

“It’s the most common cancer amongst our women,” said Ms. Lee.

SCS is alarmed by sufferers, mostly women, who wait until a lump in the breast becomes too painful before they see a doctor by which time the cancer has become too advanced for cure.

Amongst the many myths associated with breast cancer is belief that to operate on a lump spreads the disease or causes death, said Ms. Lee. She said pressing a lump through massage or fofo causes cancer to spread.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. SCS has allocated nearly every day of October to an activity aimed at its goal with colleges and community women groups a target.

Female college students must be made aware so that they grow up informed about the cancer that strikes most their gender.

Ministry of Health says in 2007 – 2011 a total 92 patients were diagnosed as sufferers. SCS warns though those are sufferers who went to hospital.

“It could be higher than that we think,” Ms. Lee said.

So far SCS has made a presentation at National University of Samoa – with more talks scheduled for these colleges: A’ana No.1, Wesley and Lepa and Lotofaga.

They’ve adopted pink as the colour to draw attention to their efforts.

SCS fund raisers planned are a Pink Luncheon on Friday at Scalini’s Restaurant, a Sei Pua Day with a BBQ in front of ANZ Bank in town to support sufferers and those who’ve died from the disease.

To top off activities is a morning tea the society holds at headquarters at Moto’otua for cancer survivors.

“The idea of that morning tea is we want to set up a support group for cancer-free patients,” said Ms. Lee.

“We don’t have that,” she said.

Survivors are patients who detected cancer early and received treatment immediately.

But the battle to free themselves of cancer can be an emotionally draining journey for themselves, their families and their friends. Survivors can help patients make the journey because they’ve gone through the pain involved.