Today a record forty thousand health-conscious participants walked in the BCI Ghana Walk for the Cure, increasing awareness about breast cancer, and keeping fit, while celebrating survivorship. Held in the Eastern regional capital, Koforidua, this is the seventh year running, with this year’s event believed to be the largest of its kind in Africa.
Enthusiastic walkers created a sea of white, as they moved through the principal streets of the host city, bringing traffic to a halt and holding spectators spell bound with their feet tapping songs, and nimble-footed choreography. Placards featuring positive messages such as, “breast cancer is curable” and “breast cancer is survivable” could be seen throughout the crowd, affirming the walk’s theme, ”OUR BREASTS, LET’S CHECK THEM.”
In an overview, Dr. Beatrice Wiafe Addai, President of Breast Care International, and CEO of Peace and Love Hospitals, under whose auspices the event is held, said, “the annual BCI Ghana Walk for the Cure has assumed a National character, attracting people from every strata of society, affirming that our awareness creation program has been embraced by all.”
She continued “We are riding on this National acceptance to increase our visibility, and by extension, heighten and sustain awareness about this debilitating disease, which, but for our consistency, would have needlessly destroyed several precious lives and families.”
According to the American Cancer Society, every 69 seconds a woman somewhere in the world dies from breast cancer; and a woman is diagnosed every 19 seconds.
In Ghana, breast cancer continues to occupy the first position in mortality as far as cancers are concerned. About 60% of our patients report to the hospitals with late stage disease, making it difficult for a cure, hence the need for early detection and prompt action. More than 50% of all our breast cancer patients are below the age of 50 years, making the disease a matter of public health concern as well.
This year’s event dovetailed into the annual “Akwantukese” Festival of the people in the region, blending tradition with health, in an all-embracing event. Politicians, breast cancer ambassadors, the clergy, students, teachers, farmers and civil society organizations walked in solidarity for the cure.
Paying glowing tribute to headline sponsor Delta Airlines and several reputable Multinational, and National corporates, individuals and the media, for their immeasurable and unflinching support, both financial and material, Dr. Wiafe said, “it was about time breast cancer was given the attention it deserved as the number one killer of women. If we do not shock the conscience of the public about this reality, we will continue the self- deception and self- denial about this disturbing trend, as our women perish, even though cure exists”.
“Breast cancer statistics would remain a scar on our conscience, if we do not collectively fight the condition as a National disaster”, she declared.
The maiden edition of the BCI Ghana race for the cure took place in Kumasi in 2011, repeating itself the following year in the Garden city before hitting the streets of Accra in 2013. In 2014, it was moved to Sunyani, bounced off to Takoradi in 2015, before returning to Kumasi last year.
The choice of Koforidua, according to walk organizers, was dictated by its strategic location and the knowledge that cases were more predominant in rural areas where illiteracy, poverty and ignorance, combine to deepen wrongly-held notions about causes and treatment of the disease.
“We are determined to drive-down the disturbing statistics in this region. Our resolve is emphasized by our choice of the Eastern region, and the Ashanti, for our basic oncology training program, which secured jobs for 120 unemployed nurses currently ready to be deployed in these two regions to clinically screen and refer from the doorstep of patients, with suspicious conditions for prompt diagnosis and treatment.” She explained.
“We have never been committed more”, she said, predicting that “we want to increase our survivor numbers ten-fold in the foreseeable future, and we are keen to have majority of them from the Eastern Region’.