Increasing the volume

Nust students dedicated 26 September to fighting cancer. Their cry is that “nobody fights alone”.

01 October 2019 | Health

Ester Kamati

The Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) public relations campaigns and special events class, along with Student Representative Council (SRC) and Nust clinic, have collaborated to put together a campaign against cancer.

It is aimed at raising awareness of the deadly disease as well as raising funds to impact the lives of those affected.

Donovan Zealand, the director of student services, said nobody is immune to cancer and that in some way each of us is affected by the disease.

He added that once diagnosed, individuals are fearful and frustrated due to a lack of control.

“It has the ability to stop everything around us,” he said, adding that individuals should be empowered to contribute meaningfully to the lives of those who have been diagnosed with this disease.

He added that helping people with cancer is not about just funds, but being there for them and showing that you care.

“Through one act of kindness, we can inspire others to go out and plant seeds of happiness through giving too.”

He mentioned that giving gifts and time should be seen as a privilege and not as a duty, and that the greatest gift is the ability to share our blessings. “Superheroes reside in the hearts of small children fighting big battles,” he said

Ndinelago Johannes, Nust public relations campaigns and special events class representative, said the programme is evidence that they have learned to put their theory into practice to ensure that a lasting change is made in communities.

The class embarked on the project to educate about the symptoms and causes of cancer, in the hope of sharing how cancer can be prevented, detected and treated.

Johannes stressed that a healthy lifestyle is essential and warned students about the harmfulness of junk food.

She shared that cancer has been on the rise in Namibia, with an increase from 1 138 cases in 2008 to 3 665 cases in 2018.

Johannes mentioned that the people most affected are aged between of zero and 30.

In 2018, 138 women lost their lives to cervical cancer, which according to Johannes is a cancer that can be prevented.

“This is just to show that this silent killer is slowly becoming an epidemic. For a small population such as Namibia, this leaves a major vacuum in our society and this is why we should stop these numbers from moving upwards.”

A study showed that although one in five students lost a loved one to the disease, three in five students still do not know how to protect themselves from cancer. The campaign has therefore sponsored 15 students to receive cancer screenings, as lack of funding and access to information are some of the reasons that students are not screened.

The group also visited the Windhoek Central Hospital children’s cancer ward to assist and spend time with the children whom Johannes described as heroes.

During their visit, they discovered that the youngest cancer patient is a month old and the oldest is 13.

Jafet Iilonga, the SRC member for gender and health, described the awareness campaign as a collaborative effort and expressed the hope that it becomes an annual event.

He shared plans to establish a support group on campus that will visit the cancer ward on a weekly basis and show support to those battling the disease.

Dr Peggy Emvula, who is a radiation oncologist, said that one of the reasons that cancer ends up taking the lives of young people is due to late detection.

“Cancer starts with one cell, which was once normal and becomes abnormal, and starts dividing uncontrollably, which causes a lump that we call a tumour,” she explained.

The warning signs include lumps that are not painful and moles and sores that keep growing. Dr Emvula added there are three steps towards combatting cancer, which include primary prevention through health education, early detection through medical assistance, and finally, early treatment to stop the spread of the disease.

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