My name is Concillia, I am a granddaughter to maMpofu aka Mrs. Msebele who was taken away from us by cancer. I will start offering emotional support to those affected by cancer. Today is World Cancer Day and I had the privilege of attending an event hosted by Susan G. Komen to join the global community in commomerating the World Cancer Day. During this event, we were challenged to make our commitments to cancer. These commitments are themed #Iamandiwill.

Many may be wondering why I commit to providing emotional support, because it can be as simple as being an ear to listen, just giving a hug at the right time. Whilst reading around cancer and what kind of support cancer patients needs or even families dealing with cancer is simple emotional support. According to the American Cancer Society, many studies have found that cancer survivors with strong emotional support tend to better adjust to the changes cancer brings to their lives, have a more positive outlook, and often report better quality of life. Furthermore, research has shown that people with cancer need support from friends. That simple act of kindness goes a long way in the life of someone with cancer.

Today’s event brought back memories of the time I came face to face with this disease. My grandmother had been diagnosed with cancer, unfortunately, it was already in stage 4. It was such a hard time for the family not mentioning her, a simple touch made her entire body ache. Over the years I have followed different cancer journeys on social media from Bradley Lowery’s who lost his fight to Stage 4 High-Risk Neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer, to the recent ones from my hometown in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe like “Fighting for Noku” Noku was fighting leukemia cancer sadly she also passed on and lastly the most recent one was Victory for Victoria,Victoria an 18 year old who suffered from sarcoma. I had so much hope for her but sadly she passed on too.

Through following these journeys only as a supporter, a simple fly on wall watching from a distance,  I have come to realize how aggressive this disease is not only to the sufferers but to the family around them. All the posts from Victoria’s parents would bring tears to my seeing how they were struggling to be strong because they cannot bear the pain of seeing their lovely daughter going through so much pain. I remember how devastated I would be each and every time i would see a post that my people i have been routing for have passed on, these are the people i had hope for and would be silently praying for them in my corner. At that moment i cannot even imagine what their families are going through, seeing that all these are young people , with a bright and promising future ahead of them pass on it devastaing. Cancer has destroyed families, the void that these people leave cannot be filled worse off when its children. No parent has to bear the pain of watching their child suffer cancer worse off when they have to bury them.

Today was different I got to witness a different side of cancer that I used to read about but it never occurred to me that someone out there is actually suffering from it. Kicking off the event was a panel discussion from one survivor, one patient, and a strategist. One thing was very peculiar about this event, it brought closer to home male breast cancer. On the panel was a gentleman who is currently suffering from male breast cancer. It is something I have read about in articles but hearing that gentleman tell his story was devastating. As he was narrating his story I couldn’t help but think of the stigma and barriers he needs to live with at the same time trying to fight off this disease.

Not only was I taken aback because I was born in a family of boys, but the fact that we have been accustomed to breast cancer as a female disease. What makes it even more saddening is not enough resources have been allocated to male breast cancer researches. It was even more heartbreaking to hear him narrate how even in his doctor visits there’s so much uncertainty, with most of his treatments sounding like trial and error runs. Unlike female breast cancer where if discovered on stage one you have high chances of survival because health practitioners know what to do, unfortunately with male breast cancer it is not.

In all testimonials heard today, one common thing they all said is “cancer has no gender “. Let’s make sure from time to time we get checks ups. Let’s be in sync with our bodies if there’s anything that feels out of sync let’s not hesitate to consult a doctor. Early detection saves lives.

To all our dearly departed because of cancer, we miss you and we will forever cherish the memories we created with you. To our dear friends suffering from cancer we are proud of you, you got this, one step at a time. To the survivors continue inspiring us, it can be done, we will do it . In Jenna Morasca words, “I think cancer is a hard battle to fight alone or with another person at your side, but I will say having someone to pick you up when you fall, stand by your side through every appointment and delivery of bad news, is priceless.” Let’s unite and fight.