An advocacy group in Nigeria has pioneered an online campaign to help break the cycle of the stigma associated with cancer patients. According to the World Health Organization, Nigeria has the highest cancer death rate in Africa with nearly 250,000 new cases reported every year.
CGTN’s Sophia Adengo reports.
Online campaign raises cancer awareness in NigeriaAn advocacy group in Nigeria has pioneered an online campaign to help break the cycle of the stigma associated with cancer patients.
When Jane (alias) was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, she was sure the disease was fatal. However, the cancer diagnosis is not the only burden she’s been carrying. She says she also lacks acceptance from many in her community.
“In my society in Nigeria when they see somebody with cancer they think you’re cursed or you’re so unlucky, not knowing that cancer can happen to anyone,” said Jane.
It is this stigma associated with cancer patients like Jane that has prompted an online campaign by members of Stand Up 2 Cancer, Nigeria. Its purpose is to confront misinformation about the disease and to encourage those with worrying symptoms to seek professional advice and screening – a key part of early detection.
“We see people engaging on platforms like Instagram, it’s like we are in a mini-consultation when they send us a private message from all over the country from the north the south, asking where do I go if I have this challenge, in-case I have cancer,” Caleb Edwuenu of Stand Up 2 Cancer said.
“Stand Up to Cancer has registered nearly 200,000 active users from all over the country acting as an online support group. They hope the current anti- stigma campaign will continue to challenge myths deeply entrenched in the Nigerian culture,” Sophia Adengo of Stand Up 2 Cancer said.
Patients like Jane say the stigma is also prevalent among healthcare providers. When patients try to access treatment, some caregivers reluctantly respond with a belief that cancer is a death sentence and therefore more must be done to educate them.
Jane will need further treatment to clear a tumor that has been recently discovered in her left breast, but she remains determined to focus on recovery. Even if that’s a long road ahead.