Sunday, 1 November 2009

A pink war against women’s foe

BY OYINDAMOLA LAWAL
HER passion for helping people, most especially, women, made her study Psychology in the university. And more importantly, she was interested in making impact in the society.
One possible battle line is cancer: breast and cervical cancer.
For this, Orode Jade Uduaghan has established a foundation.
While studying abroad, the 20-year-old graduate of University of Window, Canada and the founder of Pink Pearl Foundation, discovered a need to create awareness on breast and cervical cancer, among Nigerian women.
The foundation started in October 2007. It was started as a passion to help Nigerian women to have good health. We had a concert to raise money in December 2007 at Expo hall, Eko Hotel, Lagos. Artistes like P Square, Banky Wellington, Olu Maintain and a lot of comedians who performed.
“I am a kind of person who loves doing things for people and not just sending people to do it because I don’t get satisfied when they do it for me. It started out of the passion I have for the Nigerian women and the lack of awareness I found out in our country, Nigeria,” she says.
In setting up her project, she discovered that the knowledge of these diseases among Nigerian women is poor. With this, she decided to go on a ‘state to state’ campaign.
“We have a lot of country that know about these diseases. I schooled in Canada and every month, there is some sort of awareness campaign in schools even at secondary schools. So, an average 15 years old girl has a clue of what this disease is and how to prevent it. But coming back to Nigeria, my heart bleeds to see that Nigerian women have no clue about these diseases.
Commenting on the birth of the foundation, Jade posits, “since we started this campaign, we have had a lot of people come up to us, asking what breast cancer and cervical cancer is all about? What should I do? How should I go about it? And that is where the passion and drive came from. It is actually killing a lot of people and if you have noticed it is increasing more than it was before. We are also embarking on state-to-state campaign as another medium. We have done one in Asaba last month and it was a huge success.”
According to the young lady, “we were able to go round Asaba, went to the markets, walked for a very long time, shared handbills and talked to people about breast cancer even in Pidgin English. We also did one in Lagos recently, with the first lady of Lagos State, Abimbola Fashola.”
She says, “we walked from Onigbongbo Market (Maryland) to Alade Market (Ikeja). Basically, our goal is to create this awareness for Nigerian women on breast and cervical cancer.”

With two years of waging war, treating and teaching women on breast and cervical cancer, Uduaghan believes that using entertainment medium and advocacy campaign to reach out to Nigerians will help in achieving the goals of the foundation.
“We were able to raise some money and thereafter, embarked on a campaign and seminar, where we invited a lot of women, who were given free talk and free breast check up in Warri. We had over a thousand women in attendance, and over 50 women had free breast checkup. Thereafter, we went ahead with a concert in 2008. We got money to help us do our project in Warri, where we had Faze, Kefee and a good number of people to support our concert and performed during that concert,”
She adds, “we used the money we got from the first and second concert to get a manual grand for the Central Hospital in Sapele, Delta State that was in December 2008. We did yet another campaign in January 2009 in Asaba. We had over a thousand women again at the campaign, free check up, and since then we have made a lot of progress. We carry out daily free check-ups for women in Asaba, Delta. We have two doctors that are working with the foundation that carry out these daily check-ups. So women are able to just go in and get themselves checked if they want to and someone they can consult.”
One of the experiences that has kept her going on the campaign in spite of the challenges was the death of her aunt, caused by breast cancer.
She reveals, “yes, I lost an aunt in 2005 due to late detection of breast cancer. She was pretty young. That again was another push and we had to do something about it”
Jade Uduaghan states that one of her greatest challenges is poignant challenge. “ There is a lot of emotional challenges because you get to meet a lot of these women; they come to you when this disease is already deadly. Early this year, we had a case of a woman, who came to me when we had our campaign in Asaba. She showed me her breast, it was already gone but we can’t say no, we did the surgery for her but after two weeks she died.
“These are the kind of things we face; a lot of people come to us but they don’t come to us early enough and by then our help can’t really do enough, we cannot do as much as we will want to do to save their lives. We also have challenges of funding but loosing people have always been one of the major challenges.”
For many, inspirations come from their experience and God, but to Uduaghan, she gets her inspiration from her patients.
She says, “ yes, I have had a patient that really inspired me. There is this youth corps member, who is undergoing Chemotheraphy now. The major problem women have is, if I take away one breast, what will become of me? But she did not put that as a set back and had operation. She is now perfectly fine, she is doing everything she needs to do and it is not noticeable and obvious but she has just one breast. She has given me that drive to still go on doing what I am doing.”

PINK Pearl was coined from woman’s colour and jewellery. She explains, “the pink for me is woman; it is a colour for woman. The pearl is a precious stone; basically it is a woman being precious. When we put it together we got Pink Pearl. I know it is very impossible to say that breast cancer will vanish forever. We want to get to a point where at least every woman can decide what to do at anytime to detect it early. Because what we discover is people come to us when it has gotten to a stage where we can do nothing about.
“We help them but at the end of the day, it is not productive because they don’t survive. Early awareness is our motive and goal, that is what we are preaching. If you know about this early, you can get to us and you can save your life. We are trying to create early awareness about early detection.” She added
How has she been able to get funds for such a huge and tasking project? She disclosed, “We get funds from companies, individuals. For example during the concert, people bought tickets 10 times more than the actual price as a donation or a gift. And sometimes Individuals just come up and pick a patient and pay for treatment. Also, we get sponsorship from companies. But no money coming from daddy.”
Of course a lot of people would think she embarked on this project because she is a governor’s daughter. Uduaghan however says, “If you know me and ask people around me, you will know that I have the passion for helping people. I’ve always had this passion to help people. In my secondary school, I was the health prefect. Because of the zeal to help people, I decided to read psychology. Helping people is what I really love doing, even if I am not in this position as the governor’s daughter, I will still do it, but thanks to God I am here. It has given me the upper hand and the opportunity so I might as well just use it.”
Her advice to Nigerians is, “for the men, we always preach, do not look down on your wives, who have had one breast removed as a result of breast cancer but that they should show them love. For the women, after treating them physically, we build their mentality that they can still go on with life with one breast and after talking to them about it they can now move from feeling depressed.”
She says. “We reshape their mentality and after that we noticed their life begins to change from depression to a more stable state. We do a total package, total wellbeing. Then we let them know that they should put their faith in God who created us all. Cervical cancer is the most difficult, breast cancer is what you can see but for cervical cancer, you don’t even know you have it. We are preaching go and get check. And when you know you really cannot afford the treatment, will do it for you.”

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