Cancer: Join The Fight

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Yesterday February 4 was World Cancer Day; a day set aside by the United Nations (UN)/World Health Organisation (WHO) every year to raise awareness about cancer and encourage its research, prevention, detection and treatment.

Cancer encompasses a wide range of complex diseases affecting various organs in the body. It is the leading cause of the death worldwide, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

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Despite this ailment being a scourge, its awareness, prevention and treatment is surprisingly still poor in Nigeria. It is really sad the way we take health issues in this country.

During the last general elections, neither All Progessive Congress (APC) nor People’s Democratic Party (PDP) mentioned health in their mainfesto. All focus was on economy, infrastructure and anti-corruption war.

Nigeria economy greatly depends on crude oil production in the oil-rich areas and the price of crude oil in the international market. However, there is still little or no awareness about the possible health hazards like cancer that will develop over time in those areas as a result of the exploration and exploitation of crude oil.

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Cancer is unfortunately ubiquitous; we are all affected by it whether directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously. Cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) are present in the air, food and water we are exposed to. Drugs, hormones, viruses, petrochemicals, bacteria, metals, radiation, tobacco, obesity and increased alcohol intake all increase cancer risk.

The U.S. Department of Health Services estimated that about two-third of all cancer cases worldwide is linked to our environment and our life style choices. WHO also estimated that about 100,000 new cancer cases occur in Nigeria annually.

This highlights the dire need for us, as a people, to prepare for the Tsunami that is about to break in cancer by raising awareness and promoting research for prevention and treatment of all cancer types. This will go a long way in reducing cancer incidence and cancer-related deaths in Nigeria.

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Luckily, cancer incidence is still lower in Nigeria than developed nations like the United Kingdom (UK) so there is need to nip it in the bud. James M. Allan, a Professor of Cancer Genetics at Newcastle University, suggested that the difference in life expectancy at birth in both countries may be the reason behind this.

The current life expectancy at birth in Nigeria is 52.62 years whilst life expectancy at birth in the UK is 80.54 years (source: CIA World Fact Book). And the median age of most cancers at diagnosis is often between 60 and 68 years.

The most prevalent cancers in Nigeria are breast, cervical and prostrate cancers. Cancer treatments are expensive but these are curable if detected early. The outlook for patients with these cancers is much better than two to three decades ago, with better cure rates and longer term disease freesurvival.

However, cancer treatment centres are very few in the country. And most of them lack modern equipment for diagnosing and treating the condition. It was reported last year that only two radiotherapy machines are functional in the country.

The Federal Government, in conjunction with the state and local governments, need to float and equip more mobile centres throughout the country to fight this scourge. And also create awareness about the causative factors, preventative measures, likely treatment options and facilities where such treatments are available. I implore them to also make provisions in the annual budget for extensive researches into all cancer types affecting Nigerians.

Cancer is no respecter of age, sex, ethnicity, religion, class, wealth, beauty, talent, intelligence, fame or power. But together we can all do something about cancer. Join the fight against cancer.

Desperation

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Every football fan looks forward to transfer deadline day as varied teams make last-ditch efforts to save their season. European clubs scamper to get certain deals over the line before midnight of September 1 (this year the times varied).

The transfer deadline day gives one a practical insight into desperation. Fans/managers are desperate to see new players walk through the door at their respective clubs.

This year, we saw Manchester United break the transfer record for a teenager as they coughed out £36m (which could rise to €58m) for 19-year-old Anthony Martial from AS Monaco. This may sound like a calculated risk to the management of Manchester United due to the huge potential of young Martial but the truth is that he is a panic buy, purchased to solve United’s striking problem – an act of desperation.

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Desperation is marked by despair and a strong desire. It is unattractive to most people..maybe everyone. It is easy to decipher; it can be spotted from miles away.

Once you appear desperate, you become an easy prey. Desperation often impairs one’s rational and critical thoughts hence affecting his/her judgement. No wonder the Irish describe ‘desperate’ as something very bad.

To be fair, it is hard for one not to be desperate in this clime after some period of anguish and despair. Our economy is in a worrisome state; corruption rules the day, unemployment is at all-time high and most of the employed ones are underemployed and underpaid.

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For example, you just married the love of your life and have a baby on the way but you have no job because you were sacked from your last job. You have bills to pay, responsibilities to meet but you don’t have money to pay or meet them. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t get desperate after a while?

Also, just like job search, quest for true love can often result in desperation. It is that time for you to settle down so you attend every wedding and register on every dating site till you give into desperation. Being too eager and needy can backfire and creep people out.

Desperation often leads to self-destruction. Desperate people rarely make good decisions. They lower their value in the eyes of others and tend to settle for anything.

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Desperation is never a good negotiating tactic. It makes one over-react and over-price a product or service just like Manchester United. It is okay to be desperate for a job/love/product/service – whatever it may be – but it is important to maintain your cool. You don’t have to act like you are.

Tottenham Hotspur supremo David Levy is known for his calm and collected approach to transfer negotiations. In the end, his counterparts become frustrated and buy his players at an inflated price.

On the contrary, desperation can also be a good thing – like a springboard to productivity. This may sound weird to many but believe it. Some people develop overnight courage and spring to action when they are desperate. After all, you know what they say “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

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About 3,000 Syrian migrants have already died this year in the Mediterranean as they try to escape the violence in Syria but that hasn’t stopped others from migrating to Europe. When you are desperate, you leave your comfort zone and embrace your last resort.

Nothing matters to you other than this moment. You can’t second guess yourself when you have run out of options. This can give one a certain kind of power. It shows us who we really are; whether we are complacent or willing to go far. Hear Evan Esar, “Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, DESPERATION, perspiration, and inspiration.”

It is good to be full of zing but moderation is key. Once you act cool and collected, your confidence will rub off on people hence making you attractive. Desperation is like a dirt on the wall – cover it up with paint and it’s all good!

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