Editorial comment – From vigilance to wellness

Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete (left) speaks with Dr Sailosi Ratumaitavuki during the Fiji Medical Association West Mini Conference in Lautoka. Picture: REINAL CHAND

The revelation that at least two female students in a classroom in Fiji will develop breast cancer in their lifetime is certainly not a pleasant one. Fiji Medical Association president Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete said this while speaking at the Fiji College of General Practitioners conference on Saturday. The breast cancer ratio in Fiji, he said, likely stood at 1 in 12 to 15 which was alarming. He said breast cancer was the number one killer for women in Fiji. Dr Waqainabete said there was nothing to prevent a person from getting breast cancer. However, he said HPV injections were available to help prevent people from getting cervical cancer. This is why awareness is important. The positive takeaway from his comments is the fact that it is important to pick up cancer in its early stages. If we are able to do that, he said, we could effectively fight it. While many women, he said, were opting for herbal medicines to cure breast cancer, it was important that conventional medicines were given a chance. It is a known fact, he said, that conventional treatment can cure, the reason it doesn’t cure is because people come late. There are many things we may never be able to control in our lives. We had no say in terms of our gender and ethnicity for instance. However, when we discuss the harsh reality of cancer, and mull over awareness campaigns, there is an element that we perhaps could have a say in. Not many people will ever understand what parents and guardians who have children suffering life-threatening illnesses like cancer go through daily. Carry that forward and you’d have to admit no one would understand what family members of any patient suffering from cancer go through. Early detection has always ranked highly in messages fighting cancer. In the face of the common fear that surrounds every form of cancer, there is a positive touch that embraces the notion that early detection is important and could effectively make a difference. The key though rests with us. It means cutting the fear factor and taking the bold step to make a difference. It means embracing early detection and giving conventional treatment a chance. To that end, there is a great need for vigilance and awareness. Together we can fight cancer.

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