Samoa Cancer Society targets public awareness

Unumoe Esera

, Health, Latest, Local

Losing his hair for the cause is the President of the Cancer Society, Leiataua Daryl Clarke

By Unumoe Esera

APIA: FRIDAY 19 OCTOBER 2012: The President of the Samoa Cancer Society, Daryl Clarke is focusing on raising public awareness to combat the growing disease as many have lost their lives due to the lack of awareness.

“We have outreach programs now in the villages and schools to talk to them about cancer, early detection of cancer and healthy living. We also have a senior community nurse who deals with cancer patients and a second one will be joining us in December as there as so many people affected with cancer and need patient support,” he said

Daryl also says that they are with the cancer patients every step of the way.

“We take them through the health system and help them through the process of seeing doctors and support at the National Health Services. Even overseas treatment we push for them to get opportunities to seek further treatment overseas and help them through the process to save them,” he added.

The Cancer Research Centre is currently situated at Moto’otua near the National Kidney Foundation and the Oceania University of Medicine.  This is where cancer patients can have access to more information and resources on cancer.

“There is information on cancer and people can come and talk to us at our office for help as this service was not available 18 months ago. I encourage them to make good use of it. A lot of our resources are from the New Zealand Cancer Society and we have a good relationship with them and they provide good service. Cancer is a terminal illness and help is available at NHS,” said Daryl.

At the moment there are only two staff members and the extra nurse who will join their team is through funds provided by the Government.  He also said an administration and finance officer will also be hired and a youth ambassador who will prepare publications and statistics on the number of cancer patients in Samoa and will work together with the Ministry of Health.

Daryl estimates that from figures in 2007-2011, 200 people are diagnosed with cancer a year in Samoa. “If it is not detected early, it will be fatal. Early detection is very important before the cancer can spread out and affects the rest of the person’s organs,” he said.

The Society’s major fundraiser last Saturday saw 29 personalities losing their hair in the ‘Shave It or Save It’ drive.

They are: President of the Samoa Cancer Society – Leiataua Daryl Clarke, Vice President – Leituala Dr. Ben Matalavea, Bluesky  Chief Operations Officer-Tiafau Douglas Creevey, Bluesky Financial Controller – Kapila Chandrasekera, President of the Samoa Law Society – Leota Raymond Schuster, Papali’i Peter Fatialofa – Fats Tours Samoa, Amaramo Sialaoa – Manager Westpac Bank of Samoa, Bernie Poort – Manager  ANZ Bank Samoa, Geoffrey Clarke – Special Occasions Supplies, Alex Wright -TV1 news presenter, Egon Keil – Speedy Auto Care, Neville Koop – SPREP, Gabriel Pasese Si’a – Ozki Band, AFI junior Paese Si’a – Ozki Band, Auimatagi Afi – Land Transport Authority, George Avia – Samoa Spare Parts, Jonah Tuiletufuga – Radio Polynesia FM radio announcer, Gecko Keil – Thirsty Gecko, Oscar Netzler – Movies 4 U, Francis Ah Him – Millenia Hotel, Lesa Richard Keil – RM& Keil Enterprises, Tilafono David Hunter – CEO Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa, Luke Brown -Australian High Commission, Mark Paul – Gold Star, Desmond Chan Ting – Digicel and Tautua Party Whip and Faleata MP Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi.

Two women and a young girl participated and they were Jay Ah Fook-Y-Not Bar Matautu Tai, The young girl, Catherine Collingwood Keil is a student at Robert Louis Stevenson School whose grandmother was a cancer survivor as she was diagnosed twice with cancer and Jane Si’a-Vailima Breweries was another cancer survivor with her sons in the Ozki Band also shaving their heads in support of her.

“The amount of $86,345.99 tala was raised on the night and a number of pledges are yet to be collected bringing the total amount to $107, 000,” said Daryl.

He said that the idea to hold this fundraiser was not a new idea as hair loss is something cancer patients experience after going through chemotherapy and is often done in New Zealand and Australia to raise funds for cancer patients.  The idea was initiated by his brother Geoffrey Clarke and Auimatagi Afi who he says pushed for them to go ahead with it.  He also acknowledged former Manu Samoa player Fats who he says was a big supporter of the event as a lot of his friends had died from cancer. The Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Fatialofa Sailele Malielegaoi has also pledged to have his hair shaved on the 23rd October at 4pm at Johns Barber Shop.

“We are very excited about the PM’s support and he has constantly supported the Samoa Cancer Society. For example in the beginning of the year he made the time and effort to meet a young girl with cancer as it was her wish in the Make a Wish Foundation list. Not only time and time again has he supported us but he does it consistently so and we are so lucky to have him on the same level as the Samoa Cancer Society,” said Daryl.

He said SCS does not limit themselves to cancer patients but other people with illnesses that need help. “We worked very hard to setup this Society and put in a lot of time, work and effort and without it wouldn’t have happened. We also have a lot of volunteers who assist us in our work,” said Daryl.

Personally he got involved in the Samoa Cancer Society because his father had passed away due to cancer in 2008. “From the consequence of that I wanted to help other people so they wouldn’t got though the same thing. The objective is to help each other.The Society was founded in 1998 but only kicked off in 2008 when a group of them took on the responsibility to be an active Non-Government Organisation and raise awareness,” he said.

Sei Pua Day is another one of their events on the calendar scheduled for next week on the 26th October which is an annual awareness day which he says requires a lot of time and effort.  Therefore they try to spread out their fundraisers throughout the year so that they don’t bombard people with requests for funds or sponsorship.