Mrs Betty Akeredolu, wife of the Ondo State Governor, has called on government at all levels as well as other stakeholders to support survivors and patients of breast cancer across the nation.
Akeredolu made the call on Friday in Ibadan at a news conference to mark the 25th Anniversary and 4th International Breast Cancer Symposium of Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN).
BRECAN was founded in Ibadan in 1997 by Akeredolu shortly after surviving from breast cancer.
It is a leading NGO galvanizing action against breast cancer in Nigeria through sustained Public Education, Patients’ Support, Advocacy and Research.
Speaking on the theme of the anniversary ‘Closing the Data Gap for Precision Cancer Control in Nigeria’ she lamented the huge cost of treating breast cancer.
Akeredolu, the BRECAN president, said that some of the breast cancer patients and survivors are going through hard times due to lack of institutional support.
She said that treatment of breast cancer was very expensive which makes life unbearable for some of the victims, saying breast cancer victims deserved access to adequate and affordable treatment.
“Government should lessen access to treatment for breast cancer by providing facilities and machines at treatment centres.
“The treatment is huge. When people don’t have money and cannot afford it, they end up dying untimely,” she stated.
Akeredolu said that there was need to close gap in data collection of breast cancer victims and survivors across the nation.
“It’s high time for Nigeria as a nation to have her own statistics to know if truly women are surviving breast cancer and to cater for the well-being of the victims.”
She recounted her experiences as a victim, maintaining that BRECAN had become a voice to the voiceless for breast cancer patients and survivors.
The governor’s wife said that the activities of BRECAN had motivated a lot of women to show up in hospital for screening and treatment.
“I have put it behind me, it started 25 years ago. Although it was traumatic when it started, but with the support of my husband and the children as well as the entire family, I have been able to pull through.
“My state of mind also helped. The positive attitude during difficult times sometimes make someone to pull through. My children have been my anchor!
“That’s why I summoned courage to be the voice of the breast cancer victims. Before I started, most of the women were under the table and hiding in the wardrobe because they don’t want anybody to know,” she said.
Akeredolu said that many women braced up and visited the hospital, having encouraged them through BRECAN.
“That most of the survivors of breast cancer are rich individuals might not be totally wrong because the burden of treating breast cancer is huge.
“The capital outlay is huge, that’s why it looks as if the rich survive it. We have embarked on some interventions.
“We want to become one stop shop where women can get adequate information on cancer, and the hallmark of this celebration is to showcase that women still survive cancer,” she said.
She called for support towards funding the association so that it could continue to grow as well as extend to the 36 states of the federation.
“The government is not supporting and that’s why most of the patients give up and prefer to die. But it shouldn’t be.
“The government should make breast cancer treatment accessible. Then those that will resign to fate will drastically reduce,” Akeredolu said.