By Manamea Apelu-Schwalger
Keni, thank you for recapping on the issues we wanted to highlight for World Cancer Day in your editorial today (Saturday 6 February 2016).
The realities are, because of our limited resources, it is a lot harder for Samoans to battle cancer.
The Ministry of Health is still 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 programmes already in place, and is facilitated by the Ministry of Health alongside partners like the Samoa Cancer Society.
However, when our people are diagnosed (mostly at late stages), there are so many limitations to accessing conventional treatment for those who opt to go that way, or have enough knowledge to understand it and attempt it without fear.
Without government assistance or that of our loved ones who can afford it - or if you are fortunate to have insurance - advanced medicine (chemo and the likes) that can be either life saving or simply a means to prolong life, is but a dream.
I will not knock down the use of traditional medicine, after all, some chemotherapy chemicals are extracts of plants, but that is too general an explanation and I will not go into what I don’t know too much of.
For someone like myself, I reiterate “it provides hope” when one feels all is lost or when there is no other alternative.
I fully understand why the vast majority of our people turn to the Samoan fofo.
Do not judge, please, until you have walked in those shoes. But all is not lost, for just as the sun is sure to rise, there is hope.
We can start with treating the causes (still highly debated in the medical profession), but diet is known to play a huge role in causing cancer - LIVE HEALTHIER, MAKE HEALTHIER CHOICES!
Personally, now that I am travelling down the path of advanced cancer, I am turning to nutrition in the hope my body will fight for me as much as my mind yearns it.
I will not stop my search for a second opinion and am open to the idea that there are trials out there that I can reach with whatever resources I have.
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 grandmother Taupatupatu puts a whole new meaning of putting the fear of God into you - but I digress) and after all, this country is founded on God and I do know that God is the ultimate doctor. Absolutely.
But for goodness sake, please take my word for it, dear friends and families, do not tell the cancer patient that cancer is a curse from God. I believe in a much more loving God, who will rise with me when we have the ability to each morning, and will guide my soul and nourish my spirits to fight for life as long as we breathe, so we can serve and worship him in every meaningful way possible, before we depart this earthly existence.
The point is, we are a poor country, with limited resources, and the fight for cancer (as is the fight for many other diseases) is not made any easier.
But be grateful for what is, and strive for better, because it is possible, who knows, maybe my lauesi concoction is the cure, or there is one just around the corner.
God bless us all and thanks again Keni!