Editorial comment – Some semblance of order

Fiji Cancer Society CEO Belinda Chan. Picture: FILE.

It was good to hear Fiji Cancer Society CEO Belinda Chan highlight challenges they face and their hopes and aspirations.

That was certainly enlightening. Coming from someone who is actually at the forefront of the fight against cancer, you will appreciate some important issues that need to be raised on every platform.

Some patients who have a cancer diagnosis, we learn, still resort to herbal medicine rather than reaching out to medical professionals! Then there is the issue that sits at the forefront of cancer awareness – early detection.

“Some of us have very poor health literacy, we don’t understand what’s happening with us that we will leave it until it’s too late then we take ourselves to be seen by the doctors,” she said.

“Case in point here. My apologies to the iTaukei community, they can be the worst people to take themselves, to present themselves to the doctors. If there’s a little cough or a headache or something, they take an alternative herbal medicine, whereas with our Indo-Fijian families, they go straight to the doctor. So we need to do that.”

Like every other health expert, and stakeholder, Ms Chan raises the issue of early detection. This, she said, was extremely important and it was vital for people to understand what their body was going through.

“Understanding their normal, as opposed to when they’re not, when they have these little bumps and lumps.”

Then there is the base that is very important in the battle against cancer – the family. We need a solid foundation, and that means nurturing family support. Cancer, she said, was not an illness that should be taken too lightly.

It’s also not an illness that you should be battling on your own. It involves and affects the whole family. So in essence, if you’re a parent, it affects not only you but your spouse, “it filters through to your children.

And before you know it, the whole family network, plus the extended network is involved”.

No one should be fighting this alone. This is why such organisations have an important role to play in our nation.

They provide vital support structures, and are critical in creating awareness about cancer. In saying that, we are reminded also that one of the biggest issues facing patients is access to a steady supply of cancer-fighting medicine.

This is where major stakeholders will come in and we can only hope aspiring politicians will factor this in when they do take office. Then there is the need for a proper hospice that could serve patients who were in need of proper care. Ms Chan raises this in her interview with The Fiji Times.

“We don’t have a proper hospice. We have the old people’s home, that’s fine, but we need a hospice where not only cancer patients, but patients who have an illness, are able to check-in. You know, two or three days, family gets some respite. Then they take their loved ones back.”

We are encouraged by Ms Chan’s revelations, and look forward to inspiring people to push for developments and improvements in the care of cancer patients. Ms Chan has certainly raised issues we should be aware of.

We acknowledge all those who work behind the scenes to bring some semblance of order in the lives of patients and their families. We also take comfort in knowing there are organisations like the FCS around. Thank you!

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