DSC04588Looking at the title of this article, it is very easy to stop for a moment and wonder why on earth would it be as it is, right? I mean, cancer, just like any other disease, however way you want to look at it, is in no way something worth celebrating…we can all agree on that. Why then would we be having this annual celebration? Well, before we look at why the just concluded World Cancer Day event in Nyeri would attract a crowd of over a thousand residents from within the county and beyond in spite of that fact, I’m reminded of a verse in the Bible that urges the believers to give thanks in every circumstance they face…the highlight here being ‘every’ which means that whatever situation comes our way; whether good or bad, we have even a bigger reason to be grateful to God. Now that is the spirit.

Cancer’s insurgence has brought along everything undesirable; death, negative economic impact, social issues, mental disturbance…everything that messes up the normal order of a community. It has reached a point where we can all feel it; everyone in the country has either lost a relative, a friend or someone they know to cancer or even worse, are fighting cancer themselves. So when such events as World Cancer Day come around, it is a chance for everyone to reflect, consult and see how best we can conquer this battle; and that is our kind of celebration. It is a time to help those who are fighting, encourage the survivors ad pay tribute to those who have a lost the battle because we all belong together.This year’s message of ‘WeCanICan’ is evidence that no one can fight this menace alone. “I am a breast cancer survivor. I have been living with this condition for 7 years. It was difficult for me at first; I gave up, lost hope and just closed out everyone. When I was taken to Nyeri Hospice, I had a complete turn-around. I found a home, love and everything I had missed since I was diagnosed. They counseled me, referred me for treatment and slowly I regained my old self and even now I have had a breast replacement.” Elizabeth Gathogo says. She is jovial and does not seem to be a person who has gone through the worst experience of her life. She adds that they have formed a support group of women and they do visits to patients at home and in hospices; because that is how we can overcome this battle: We fight together.

The importance of this celebration was clear with the attendance of governmental organizations and also private organizations such as Africa Cancer Foundation (ACF), Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), Kenya Cancer Association(KENCASA), Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) among others. American Cancer Society (ACS) was also represented and even donated the day’s t-shirts and caps among other materials. According to Dr. Kibachia who is among the organizers of the event, these partnerships are a powerful message that the country is in the right direction to curbing cancer, “Cancer is not a problem of an individual, it is a problem whose presence in one way or another affects each and every one of us. I would urge us to throw in our support regardless of how small it may seem, it can go a long way in this fight. It is me today, you tomorrow and the least we can do is hold each other because we know together we can.”

Most of the speakers of the day emphasized on the need for screening,  which seems to be a problem with most Kenyans. The other problem also that has seen the rise in cancer is the lifestyle such as smoking, little or no exercise. “Most of these types of cancers can be avoided if we did things right. Let’s change our attitudes, let’s go for screening. If you have gone through this, share your story, share your condition and people will learn from it. We cannot fight cancer if we cannot accept it as just any other disease,” says Liza Ngenye, a cancer survivor. The event was marked all over the world and the message of togetherness stood out: WeCanICanDSC04546DSC04606