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Traditional leaders champion cancer cause

EASTERN CAPE – Women in traditional leadership formed initiatives to embark on cancer awareness campaigns to educate their communities on dangers, early detection and prevention of breast cancer.

Because breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women in the area, traditional leaders identified the need to educate people on cancer awareness.

Nolundi Ndabankulu of Imbumba Yamakhosikazi Akomkhulu (an organisation formed by women in traditional leadership) is a retired nurse and says communities that have direct communication with their traditional leader generally take note of messages and opinions from them

“When there are social ills experienced by our communities, as traditional leaders we receive the first-hand information and act upon it. In this case, we have received reports that cancer rates appear to be rising, therefore we have embarked in an initiative with the Department of Health educating our communities about breast cancer. We recently held an awareness campaign in Nkozo traditional council,” she said.

“We worked hand in hand with the Department of Health who provided education and screening of our communities,” said Ndabankulu of Danti Royal House.

Open to men

The initiative was welcome by Nkozo Traditional Council Chief Njisane who applauded those who attended and extended wishes that the campaign be broadened to include other types of cancers and be opened up to men too.

“Campaigns of this kind will assist our people to be more cautious about cancer and take preventative measures. Cancer can be a killer, so I have asked the coordinators of this campaigns to educate communities about other types of cancer that affect men such as prostate cancer and lung cancer,” said Chief Njisane.

Penelope Nomgqibelo Sigcawu, a breast cancer survivor, encouraged participants to invest in their health.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2006 when I underwent operation to remove both breasts.  It was not a pleasant experience, but it saved my life. Now I urge others to be aware of changes in their bodies and adopt to a balanced lifestyle. The problem with our people is that they use traditional medication rather than facing the situation at hand.  Diagnosis is not a death sentence. Cancer can be curable if it is detected early. Check-ups are the key,” she said.

According to a case study prepared for Cancer Alliance and Fix the Patent Laws earlier this month, it was stated that cancer rates in South Africa are expected to rise significantly over the next two decades. – Health-e News.

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