October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every October we use this opportunity to go for screenings, promote early detection, teach women how to do self breast exams and most importantly raise funds for the race to find a cure, and to fight the disease.
Healthcare facilities on the continent are doing their part to make sure that African women get the support they need to fight breast cancer. These organizations work tirelessly year round to provide outreach, and care for women who often times have no where else to turn.
One such stellar organization that has been providing support is the Melvine Edith Patricia Stewart Trust (MEPS) Well Woman Clinic. MEPS celebrated its tenth anniversary in Sierra Leone last year. Today MEPS is just as committed to providing women’s health services and breast cancer awareness and support as it was when it was first launched.
They’ll hold their annual fundraising walkathon on 21 October on Lumley Beach in Freetown. Funds raised go towards running the clinic and a GoFundMe to buy a mammogram for their facility. To date there is still no functioning mammogram machine in Sierra Leone making the work of early detection much more challenging.
Healthcare practitioners have to use basic screening methods to detect for breast abnormalities. While this has saved lives over the years, a mamogram machine will ensure that abnormalities are detected even earlier than when physical signs start to show.
Women who suffer from breast cancer in Sierra Leone often face stigma, especially those from impoverished backgrounds that may never have heard of breast cancer.
At a healthcare support group at the YWCA breast cancer survivors talked about the fear and stigma associated with the disease. Women are sometimes driven from their homes and labelled as witches once the cancer metastasizes. With a mamogram machine women can be spared the stigma and even more important a painful death from the disease.
As we go into the Breast Cancer Awareness Month please consider supporting the work of the MEPS Well Woman Clinic to bring a mammogram to Sierra Leone. MEPS is a fully registered charity both in the UK, US, and Sierra Leone. They are a reputable institution highly regarded by both the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone.