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Breast Cancer Awareness luncheon demonstrates importance of early detection.

Cancer is PNG’s fourth most common disease yet approximately three-quarters of sufferers face negative outcomes due to late diagnosis and inadequate treatment.

At a breast cancer awareness luncheon recently organized by the Abt JTA Women’s Committee, Sister Delosi from the Port Moresby General Hospital’s cancer ward said more awareness and focus on healthy living and early detection are the best forms of prevention against breast and other cancers.

“In my 12 years’ experience working at the Cancer ward, one of the sad reality expressed by women in the late stages of breast cancer fronting up to the hospital is their limitation to information and awareness on breast cancer in the community,” Sister Delosi said.    

She also stressed that one of the contributing factors to a lot of women from rural areas losing their battle to breast cancer is their choice to resort to traditional medicine as a cure from the belief that their illness is associated to or is a direct cause of sorcery.

While support networks for cancer patients and their families are limited, there is one organisation actively engaged in cancer care, education and improving outcomes for sufferers. The Port Moresby Cancer relief society (POMCRS) was set up 3 years ago with its main focus being to raise funds from activities like the Pink ribbon day during Breast Cancer Awareness month to contribute to a research project aimed at assessing the current level of understanding and awareness of breast and cervical cancers in the community. The results will be used to inform a large-scale awareness campaign.

Other fundraising undertaken by POMCRS is mainly used to support Ward C, the oncology unit at Port Moresby General Hospital, by training staff, supplying chemotherapy medication and food to patients and providing medical supplies and equipment as needed.

Norah Hau’ofa, Senior HR Officer at hhisp speaking on behalf of the Abt JTA Women’s Committee said such in-house activities organised by the committee allow staff to be socially aware and involved in promoting community initiatives that address gender equality and social inclusion in the country. 

She further stated that a positive outcome from the luncheon was seeing fellow staff members asking questions and sharing information about breast cancer. “Sometimes the smallest action has a big impact, and it is rare that we fully understand the follow-on effects of what we do, Mrs Hau’ofa said.

Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon Jacque

Logistics & Procurement Officer at hhisp, Jacqueline Becks reading a breast cancer pamphlet during the luncheon.