Canon Dr. Kandusi Talks About It: Prostrate Cancer Among African Men
Dr. Kandusi is the Chair of Community Outreach Advocacy, AORTIC African Cancer Advocates Consortium. Here is his testimony of living with prostrate cancer in Africa and being called to serve the people of Tanzania. Please note our shared privilege - having the financial means access to world class treatment - in country my case in (South Africa) and externally (Dr. Kandusi).
2011 was a very testing year as I experienced advanced prostate cancer recurrence metastasis of both bilateral shoulder and cervical spine. I had to fly back to Indraprastha Apollo Hospital New Delhi for treatment. I had my hormonal therapy changed and started on 12 September palliative radio therapy. Meanwhile I developed cervical neuropathy and underwent laminectomy and cervical decompression on 19 September. Later on 12 October I developed DVT and pulmonary thromboembolism and was treated and IVC filter placement was fitted in me on 17 October. I was discharged in haemodynamically stable on 28 October 2011. I am continuing taking my Fosfestrol Tablets BP. I thank all who supported me during that difficult time in my life. I thank God for my health! I still need your solidarity my friends!
2.0 AORTIC African Cancer Advocates Consortium:(ACAC)
The AORTIC’s 8th International Cancer Conference entitled "Entering the 21st Century for Cancer Control in Africa" was held in Cairo, Egypt, from 30 November - 3 December 2011. During the conference, on November 29th 2011 an Inaugural Meeting of AORTIC - African Cancer Advocates Consortium – ACAC. The mission of ACAC is to “Make Cancer a Top Priority in Africa”. I was able to go and participated at this founding meeting. I shared some of the position papers on Tanzania 50 Plus Campaign and during that meeting I was elected Chairperson for the ACAC Community Outreach Advocacy.
3.0 Community Outreach Advocacy Program:
On 25th to 26th February 2012 we had an outreach program at Mama Salma Kikwete Secondary School, Kijitonyama Vicinity in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 40 men who are 45 years old and above turned up. We extended awareness on cancer in general and prostate cancer in particular – they got informed about the disease - its risk factors, warning signs, the benefits of early detection, treatment. Voluntary rapid harbinger tests were done. The outcomes see Tables 1 and 2. A total of 40 attended the awareness sessions, 39 were tested out of which 11 were found positive and 18 negative. The blood samples of those found positive have been sent to Muhimbili National Hospital for further investigation. We need sponsorship for this kind of exercise.
4.0 The need for Community Outreach:
Ignorance on Cancer has and is causing a lot of incidences, suffering and deaths caused by the non communicable disease. As it is written, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” Hos. 4.6. In Community Outreach Advocacy one extends an educational outreach to a particular community, in our case Africa. In our situation, it’s imperative for ACAC to come up with an outreach program to extend knowledge on Cancer to our communities in Africa to reduce incidences, suffering and deaths.
Professor Timothy Rebbeck of the University of Pennsylvania had this to say, “Cancer is a serious problem in the developing world, including Africa, and threatens to rival many other diseases in terms of mortality in the coming decades. While infectious diseases remain critical problems in Africa, it is also clear that increases in the rate of cancer in Africa are of serious concern.
The World Cancer Report estimates that cancer in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by 50-75% by 2020. With increasing westernization of lifestyle, increased smoking, extension of life expectancy, and decreases in deaths from communicable diseases, cancer promises to be an increasingly important problem in Africa” (Rebbeck T, Univ. Penn USA: 2010).
While by 2020 cancer is expected to kill more than 12 million people, data tells us that 75% which is 9 million will be in developing countries mostly Africa sub-Sahara.
More than 70% of cancers in developing countries are diagnosed too late for cure and 40% of all cancer deaths can be prevented. While currently in Africa a lot of effort and programs have targeted on communicable diseases (CDs), Cancer kills more people each year than those CDs - HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
Those realities apply in my country – Tanzania and so in your countries. Tanzania is part and parcel of the developing countries.
Generally the former Minister of Health and Social Welfare Prof. David Homeli Mwakyusa was quoted saying that, “only 10% of patients suffering from various types of cancer have been registering in the hospitals for medical check-up and treatment. The remaining 90% have not made any effort to attend medical check-up”. When it comes to prostate cancer, the Minister had this to say, “We don’t have statistics on prostate cancer. But from general observations it seems the disease is affecting many people” and he adds” prostate cancer causes many deaths in the country because of lack of sensitization to the sufferers”. (ThisDay Tuesday 7 April, 2009 p.6).
This is where Tanzania 50 Plus Campaign: Literacy, Advocacy and Support Initiatives comes in. The campaign was established to addressing a disease critical to men who are about and over 50 years old
Prostate Cancer. The primary goal of the campaign is to reduce the sufferings and deaths caused by prostate cancer. The campaign wants to sensitize Tanzanians on the disease! Wants to prevent unnecessary sufferings and deaths caused by prostate cancer! Wants to see the “remaining 90%” attending hospitals for medical check-up which should include cancer screenings! Wants to see early detection of prostate cancer resulting in support, treatment, cure and palliative care! Community Outreach is thus imperative!
We can make a change by coming up with a Multi-sectoral Community Outreaching to provide correct and sound information and protect people in our communities from false rumors and misinformation on cancer diseases. Through rigorous Community Outreach, we can demythologize and get rid of syncretism associated with cancer.
“Prevention and control of cancer diseases must be corner stone of Community Outreach”.
In order to increase knowledge on cancer, our communities should be informed on what is cancer, the common risk factors for cancer which mostly include tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol. This calls upon ACAC to educate members of the communities’ to increase its capacity to make healthier choices and follow lifestyle patterns that foster good health. African Communities need be educated on the value of testing / screening and of early detection. People should not wait for warning signs or symptoms of cancer. If one is found with cancer especially in early stage is better than late stage. In most cancers, the earlier it is discovered the better chance of cure. Encourage vaccination for cancers like Cervical.
Our ACAC Mission states “Make Cancer a Top Priority in Africa”!
To fulfill this mission all of us are called upon to intensify Community Outreach Advocacy and other advocacies in our countries. The opportunity to achieve our mission has been availed to us; it’s up to us to put to praxis all advocacy work we had consensus at our inaugural meeting at Cairo, Egypt, November 2011. Lets get started – Together we can succeed – Saving other peoples lives is saving our own lives!
(Item 4.0 was written and circulated to members of AORTIC ACAC on March 2, 2012)
We invite you and the organization you work with to join us and be part of Tanzania 50 Plus Campaign!
For further information contact:
Rev. Canon Dr. Emmanuel J. Kandusi
Prostate Cancer Survivor and Founder
Tanzania 50 Plus Campaign:
Prostate Cancer – Literacy, Advocacy and Support Initiatives
P. O. Box 1854
Dar es Salaam
Cell phone: +255 754 402033