Why we must promote early detection of cancer

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Papali’i Niko Lee Hang

Papali’i Niko Lee Hang 

Acting Prime Minister 


Message for Pinktober

It would be amiss for me not to acknowledge the absence of our Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi who sends his apologies for not being here today.  Nonetheless he reiterates his 120 percent support for the cause.

As you are all aware, the Prime Minister is one of the most passionate supporters of the Samoa Cancer Society for many, many years. And without him, Samoa this year would not have joined the list of prominent number of countries which have painted a national monument, like our war memorial clock in downtown Apia pink to re-emphasize the importance of Pinktober month for the awareness of cancer in particular breast cancer.

On that note and reiterating the theme for the Parade today, Early Detection is Key, Pinktober is a good reminder that early detection is key to prevention and successful treatments not only of breast cancer, but for many different diseases. 

It is important for people to realise the importance of early detection to save the life of a mother, a sister, a wife or a daughter 

It is also an opportunity to mourn those that we have lost, celebrate those who are surviving and educate those who are unaware. 

It is important to know the statistics, understand how breast cancer detection and treatment has evolved, realize that men are also affected as well as understand resources available to learn more about it.

The realities are, because of our limited resources, it is a lot harder for Samoans to battle cancer. 

The Ministry of Health is working on a National Cancer Screening Programme for various types of cancers. 

With breast cancer, we now have a mammogram, ultrasound and blood tests.

So early detection is absolutely possible, and many more lives can be saved.

There are awareness programs already in place which are facilitated by the Ministry of Health alongside partners like the Samoa Cancer Society. Nonetheless government continues to search for latest treatment available for our cancer patients.  For instance your government is looking at a permanent cost effective arrangement for our cancer patients to receive the latest state of the art treatments available in India.

But the fact remains that too often precious lives are interrupted or cut short by cancer. Breast cancer, according to the Samoa Cancer Society is the most common cancer among Samoan women and is responsible for the majority of deaths every year.

Breast cancer does not discriminate -- it can strike anyone regardless of who you are- and we must raise awareness of this disease and its symptoms so we can more easily identify it and more effectively treat it. 

This month, as we honor those whose lives were tragically cut short by breast cancer and as we stand with their families, let us arm ourselves with the best knowledge, tools, and resources available to fight this devastating disease.

Regular screenings and quality care are vital to improving outcomes for thousands of women, and we are making strides in improving treatment options. 

On that note, as your Acting Prime Minister I encourage citizens, government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and all other interested groups to join in activities that will increase awareness of what Samoans can do to prevent breast cancer.

I will fail in my duties if I do not commend the Samoa Cancer Society, her stakeholders and supporters for this patriotic initiative. And rest assured government is not sitting on its laurels and we hear and appreciate your cries, and concerns.

A special thank you to everyone here this morning and to all who are advocates of Pinktoper in Samoa.  As our Prime Minister has publicly stated, “It’s about saving lives.”

In closing I would like to read part of a letter to the editor published in local newspapers and penned by Manamea Apelu Tuiletufuga Saaga Schwalger.  She needs no introduction as we all know her as a courageous fighter and surviving breast cancer patient who is  revered as a catalyst in raising public awareness of the dreaded disease.

She wrote; “I won’t lose faith, and speaking of which, I would like to say, being a daughter of Samoa, I was raised to fully understand that everything begins and ends with God. 

“My late grandmother Taupatupatu To’omalatai Tuiletufuga Saaga who died of  breast cancer puts a whole new meaning of putting the fear of God into you - but I digress. After all, this country is founded on God and I do know that God is the ultimate doctor. Absolutely.”

Ia Soifua ma ia manuia…

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