Cancer awareness should not wait for October only

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…woman says herbs saved her from cancer

By Partinella Ngozo

As the country joins the rest of the World in Commemorating the Breast Cancer Awareness month, it has become increasingly apparent that multi-stakeholder approach is needed to save lives of women who continue to succumb to the deadly but treatable disease, it has emerged.

                                   Former Health Minister, Dr Henry Madzorera

In wide ranging discussions with a wide spectrum of stakeholders including the rural women Community Voices Zimbabwe has established the glaring gaps in cancer awareness which need to be expeditiously addressed routinely and not only during October. Cancer has consumed many lives in Zimbabwe and the awareness campaigns should not just wait for the October month only because many women are vulnerable if strategic national direction is not birthed to guide continuous awareness programmers especially for women in the rural areas. These women are plagued by lack of health facilities, lack of resources to access fair medical services and lack of access to information on Breast Cancer.

Each year the month of October is breast cancer awareness month and for women like Lillian Nhendere who has suffered a different cancer since primary school in grade 5 there is need for awareness on a daily basis.

“When it comes to cancer, awareness should be given every day since it is a silent killer,” she said.

Nhendere is experiencing bone cancer but she says cancer is cancer and it should be given every attention on a daily basis rather than waiting for the month of October. She has experienced bone cancer for the past twenty years and according to her it started as a small pimple on her leg which later started swelling and erupted causing a lot of pain in the area of the tumor prompting her parents taking her to the hospital.

“The pain worsened and for six months I was being attended to at a local hospital until my parents gave up and looked for traditional methods. I had to drop out of school because of the pain but managed to get help when I was in form 1 in Gokwe,” she said.

Explaining the pain and stigma she faced at a tender age Nhendere said that most people could not even come near her because of the bad odor that was coming out from her tumor. Some people would even vomit because of the smell.

“I remember at that time I was swollen and couldn’t even put my shoes on and the pain was so unbearable. At the same time I was a moving grave since most people did not even want to come into my room or even come close because of the smell that was coming out of the wounds. It was a tough time since others would actually vomit because of the smell,” she said.

According to research by Livestrong about 60 percent of patients reported experiencing stigma, and over one-third of patients and caregivers had internalized stigma. The findings indicate that fatalistic beliefs about cancer are prevalent, and basic education about cancer for the general public, patients, and caregivers is required.

Explaining her journey to healing, Nhendere said that most of her relatives even abandoned her because of the disease and got help from church members. Most of her relatives abandoned her because they thought that the disease was contagious. She said that she tried hospital for medication until she was referred to a traditional healer who helped her heal.

Natural and herbal medicine are experiencing a global renaissance, with the World Health Organisation estimating that more than 80 percent of the world’s population uses this type of medicinal therapy. Traditional medicine has always been at the heart of most African people and in particular the Shona people in Zimbabwe.

Speaking during a health session former Health Minister in the Government of National Unity (GNU) Henry Madzorera said that cancer treatment was very expensive in Zimbabwe and some people used traditional remedies to cure the disease and it worked.

“Traditional methods work I know of a man who was diagnosed with cancer and when I saw him after he had used traditional methods medicine he was completely healed, there is absolutely nothing wrong in using herbs to cure cancer,” he said.

Madzorera urged traditionalists to pass information to others so that they might be cured from cancer and other diseases since traditional medicines have proved to be a goody remedy for Zimbabweans in curing different kinds of diseases.

“Traditional knowledge on medicine should be passed on to others but it is unfortunate that most traditional healers do not want to give out information. They are very selfish because of greediness, they are after money and know that the moment they alert others they will not get customers. I strongly think that as a country the agenda of traditional medicines should be exploited so that we save lives,” he said.


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