Today is June 4 2017, the first Sunday of the month of June and it is the National Cancer Survivors Day, an annual, treasured celebration of life that is held in hundreds of communities nationwide, and around the world.
According to Douglas R. Lowy, Acting Director for US National Cancer Institute, It is a celebration for those who have survived, an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families and an outreach to the community. On this day, thousands gather across the globe to honour cancer survivors and to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be fruitful, rewarding and even inspiring.
“It is a day for everyone, whether you’re a cancer survivor, a family member, friend, or medical professional. This day provides an opportunity for all people living with a history of cancer,” said Lowy.
Lowy added that the National Cancer Day should draw attention to the ongoing challenges of cancer survivorship in order to promote more resources, research, and survivor-friendly legislation to improve cancer survivors’ quality of life.
In Papua New Guinea (PNG), National Cancer Survivors Day came early for Bongre Anthon Peter, a 3 year old toddler of mix parentage of Simbu and Eastern Highlands province who is under palliative care with his parents at the Port Moresby General hospital after dealing with more than four overseas cancer specialists in the nation capital.
Peter was visited at his sick bed by strangers who were touched by his story. Among them were young Christopher and Theresa Caseria who dropped by to share prayer and love with him.Young Christopher and Theresa Caseria dropped by to share prayer and love with Bongre Anthon Peter. Empathy card for Bongre Anthon Peter made by Theresa Caseria.
Suffering retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye which is exclusively found in young children, failure to detect the tumour in Peter’s eye at its earliest stage is a concern to some people.
Michael Francis, who is a member of the Chimbu Children’s Foundation, said Bongre would have sought early medical treatment if the diagnosis by doctors in Mt Hagen and Goroka general hospitals had identified the tumour at the first place.
“It is the negligence of doctors to work on and provide early results of the tumour that delayed Bongre’s treatment.” said Francis.
Early detection is one of the key components in the treatment of cancer, however, most hospitals in PNG lack the technology and skills to do that.
Kind hearted individuals showed numerous supports in cash and kind in the joint fight to preserve Peter’s vision; however, time is running out for this young boy.
With the unavailability of radiation treatment in PNG, Peter now has five months to live. Thousands of people within the country and abroad are collaborating to help save Bongre’s vision.
Though cancer remains a relatively infrequent cause of admission to health facilities in PNG, several cases of admissions and death related to cancer have been reported on media in the recent years.
Meanwhile, a review on cancer in PNG, 2010 by Paul Crouch-Chivers concluded that late presentation and limited treatment facilities in areas other than base hospitals result in much patient suffering and poor survival statistics.
Images: Michael Williams