Every year, millions of people are diagnosed with cancer, HIV, diabetes and other deadly diseases. For some, this signifies the beginning of the end of a very vibrant and promising life not to mention the emotional turture and sufferings of friends and family who have to watch their loved ones go down that road. An average of 6.7 million people die from cancer every year and there are just over 24.6 million people worldwide currently battling the disease, if this sounds gloomy, then how about the 36.1 million others living with HIV/AIDS around the world out of which 2.1 million died in 2007. Whats even more shocking is the fact that women constitute more than half of those infected as well as deaths for both diseases. What is going on? we need to be ever more cautious than ever. Most of these deaths could have been averted if more women were diagnosed of both diseases earlier..in the case of HIV, that old saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ holds true. This might sound bias and subjective but considering that men arguably have more sex than women (statistically speaking), why are women more affected? the answer’s simple. Most women would do anything to please men even if it means taking the risk of contracting a deadly disease by having unprotected sex with their partners to prove their ‘commitment’…..I’ve spoken to a lot of women and most seem to admit that apart from a few moments of reckless abandon by both parties, most times they engaged in casual sex, they were deeply involved with their partners and felt safe enough to discard protection or they were coaxed into doing so to please their partners……..the sad truth is that THERE IS NEVER A SAFE TIME unless both of you have been tested! On the other hand, some women do the coaxing, and would go out of their way to make their partners engage in casual sex, whatever their reasons are, I would never understand.
There are the wives who while performing their matrimonial duties have the misfortune of being infected by an unfaithful husband, there is the 13 year old who was raped by a group of young lads who didnt have the time to wear a condom, there are the children whose ultimate gift from their mothers is an incurable disease, there is the beautiful and promising student who got it from her boyfriend in uni, there is the sister who got it by sharing her sisters blade. We need to stop seeing HIV as a disease for the poor only, you dont have to be promiscous to be infected, even the most saintly ones of us are at risk. If you’re like me who used to doubt the existence of the disease, then think again. It took me a while to actually believe that HIV wasn’t some prank the west engineered to scare us until it hit close to home. Most people would tell you to visit hospitals or care homes to see those struggling with the disease, but i would say look around you. There are lots of people living amongst us with the disease but would rather die in silence than have us judge them which we most likely would if we knew their status. For me, reality struck when a very close family friend was diagnosed with the disease back in Nigeria. No one was more shocked than i was because it was the last thing we were all expecting. She’s the sweetest thing God created, quiet, easy going, shy and beautiful. To think she had actually known about it for some time but was too ashamed to tell any member of her family, I cant even imagine how many nights she would have cried herself to sleep wallowing in self pity, wishing she could have what might never be hers and wondering how her family would react if they ever found out and believe me, finding out wasn’t easy. Its very easy to advocate for non discrimination of people living with the disease when you dont know anyone who’s got it. There are different things that would go through your mind….how? when? where? why her? everyone wanted to be there for her but the fear was overwhelming. I cant possibly imagine what agony the entire family would have gone through but I am glad today that they’ve managed to move on and with good treatment and the love of a family and friends that truly care, she lives a perfectly normally life now and dares to dream of a life filled with children and a husband…..yes a husband! Some people aren’t that lucky and we can only hope and pray that they do get the love and support they deserve.
I envy those that are bold enough to go for tests to find out their health status. Most people would tell you that having an HIV test was the scariest thing they’ve ever had to do and i can tell you….its a life changing experience. The truth is that no matter how scared we are of what lies ahead, we must at one time or the other confront our fears because going for a test is the only way to know if you’ve got cancer or any other disease. If more women got their mamograms earlier, if we did the casual tests more often, the rate of spread would reduce. One of the most most common type of cancer now is cervical cancer which is more prevalent amongst young women most of whom get to find out they have it when they’re trying to have babies. Even though the test is easy, i did not get one until recently and i was virtually hauled to the hospital to do it but i was glad i did, there’s just something about hospitals and tests that scares the hell outta me, however, every woman who’s of child bearing age MUST have this test done so that treatment can start early.
I have been doing some volunteering for cancer research UK and what I have experienced is something i might never be able to describe here or anywhere else, there are amazing people who are struggling for their lives from this horrible disease and the strenght and determination that they have is phenominal. Today was another race for life event and it gave me hope to see women of all ages, races and status coming together to run 5 km to raise money for cancer research. My heart goes out to those who have lost their loved ones to cancer, even though they are gone, their families keep their memories alive by joining in the fight against the disease and the search for a cure. You can never understand until you listen to the survivors, their fight and the victory thay have had only makes them stronger, what doesn’t kill you they say can only make you stronger. The bravest of them all, are those who even though have lost the battle refuse to be cast down by cancer, they will enjoy every sunshine, graduation party, weddings, birthdays and everything else life has to offer while they can.
Ofcourse, the amazing works of organisations like cancer research would not be possible without all the amazing men and women who volunteer their time to raise money for research and keep the donations in kind coming. It feels so good doing something for others in return and while its easy to make up reasons why you’re too busy to help, you’ld be amazed to find how much you’re capable of doing once you’ve put your mind to it.
I’ll leave you with this, the next time you feel like complaining about how wretched and messed up your life is…..just think about those who are barely holding on to dear life out there and you’ll thank God for little mercies.