Awareness ribbons are common and in different forms which include car magnets, windshield stickers, or pins on our clothes. They are meant to show support to the world for a certain cause or organization. Commonly used ribbon colours include pink, yellow, red, blue, green, black and purple. Pink is most commonly associated with breast cancer awareness. but it’s used for more than just that.
The pink ribbon represents fear of breast cancer, hope for the future, and the charitable goodness of people and businesses that publicly support the breast cancer movement. It has become a powerful symbol to increase awareness about breast cancer, and it’s intended to evoke solidarity with women who currently have breast cancer.
During breast cancer awareness month in October and throughout the year, people wear pink ribbons to honour survivors, remember those lost to the disease, and to support the progress we are making together to defeat breast cancer. October is also a month to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. It’s important for all of us to make a difference by spreading the word about regular screening and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved.
The month of October is also characterized by many cancer related activities because breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer and chances of survival are increased significantly by early detection especially in countries with good management practices and capacity. I began the month by attending a charity event in Abuja dubbed ‘Fashion fights cancer with art, photography and music’. We had the opportunity to explore Nigerian fashion and interact with models who are using their talent for a good cause.
There were two key conferences taking place in Abuja in the month of October, 2016. The first one was dubbed ‘The second cancer summit’ that brought together medical professionals of different speciality, policy makers, advocacy groups, NGOs and other stakeholders to discuss on ‘Current trends in management of advanced breast cancer and a subtheme on cervical cancer’. The main event theme was ‘The fight against breast cancer in Nigeria with focus on the successes in the past and outlook into the future’. Having had the opportunity to attend the summit, my key take home message was that all the stakeholders must collaborate to achieve more in the fight against cancer. We listened to many moving stories from survivors on stigma associated with cancer and advocacy groups actively challenged policy makers and media to do more to reduce the suffering of the cancer patients in Nigeria.
The second forum was by Africa organisation for research & training in cancer (AORTIC) which brought together more than 100 medical professionals from across Nigeria for a training on ‘Cancer control training and research; capacity building for the 21st century’. It was encouraging to hear health professional exchanging knowledge and sharing their experiences on the challenges and what they are doing to make a difference in the lives of Nigerians.
One of the most exciting parts of the October month was the opportunity to take a break from cancer work to visit our Nigeria’s GSK colleagues in the head office at Ilupeju in Lagos and manufacturing site at Agbara in Ogun state.
And to connect back with the local community, I had a chance to participate in an ‘Employability and Entrepreneurship workshop’ sponsored by ‘Global shapers community, Abuja’. Interacting with a big group of unemployed youth is a reflection of the socioeconomic challenges of developing countries. However, it’s inspiring to see a few young professional coming together with a vision to equip seven thousand youth with employability skils and three thousand with entrepreneurial skills in 5 years.