A non-governmental organisation (NGO), Care Organisation Public Enlightenment (C.O.PE), has appealed to the Lagos State government and the society to provide a comprehensive cancer centre for cancer patients in the state.

Chief Executive Officer of C.O.PE (an NGO that caters to breast and cervical cancer patients and survivors), Mrs Ebunola Anozie made the call at a special session of her NGO’s cancer patients and survivors’ monthly meeting, at the organisation’s office at Adeniyi Jones Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos mainlandyesterday.

She lamented the poor and costly state of Nigeria’s cancer treatment and diagnosis units in hospitals and called for government’s intervention.

Anozie said: “We need a comprehensive cancer centre in Lagos State, so that people do not have to fly abroad anymore for treatment. Not everyone can afford treatment or even diagnosis abroad and many people have died because they do not have money for treatment. Government has a lot to do, because it seems as if they are leaving the work to NGOs. We must let people see that cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence or a stigma.”

She encouraged the public to reach out to cancer patients by providing care and donating money for their treatment, rather than condemn them to death.

The caregiver wept as she identified some of her members, whose cases have become malignant due to lack of funds to buy medication and further treatment.

“It seems as if the society is doing nothing. Cancer treatment is expensive, especially in Nigeria and when we write to people for funds sometimes, some wonderful people donate but many others simply ignore it as if it is not their business. Anyone could be diagnosed with cancer and the treatment is so expensive that some people go bankrupt from it. Every form of help from society would help a lot,” Anozie said.

Some survivors at the meeting, who also pushed for the establishment of a comprehensive  cancer centre, appealed to the public not to stigmatise cancer patients and survivors.

Rose Ikem, who is still undergoing chemotherapy, said: “People need to know that being diagnosed with cancer is not a death sentence. You must fight it. And more importantly, the public must stop looking at us strangely when they hear we are fighting cancer, because encouragement from people helps to boost our will to survive.”

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