Villagers learn about the dangers of cancer

The Skelton family of Malie has turned a family loss from cancer into motivation and are raising awareness on the disease, through workshops that focus on its dangers as well as women empowerment. 

A year after the passing of their family member Maria Skelton Tagiilima to breast cancer, the family met and decided to form an association called 'O le ama'.

The objective of the association is to raise awareness on cancer, and support families who went through or are going through similar situations.

The association's name is to reflect the outrigger of a canoe to signify the belief in the Pacific Islands that without an outrigger, the canoe is in danger of drifting or sinking. 

Paepaefoa Alex Skelton said when his sister was battling cancer, their family's support was her silver lining, as having the family around at such a critical time was important. 

Jayne Skelton Richardson said through the kindness of her colleagues in New Plymouth in New Zealand, friends and family members, they were able to bring over donated bras, and breast cancer self assessing kit amongst other things.

In commemoration of Pinktober 2019, the family decided to take advantage of the day and raised awareness on the importance of getting screened, detected and treated early for cancer.

"Our theme is cancer awareness and not only do we give these bras for free but also with a message to make the time to get screened as early as possible.

"To value their lives, go get checked and prioritize their health."

Samoa Cancer Society marketing manager, Verona Parker, also did a presentation on what the villagers needed to know about cancer and its dangers.

The Skelton family is working in partnership with the village churches as well as the village council, in order to push the message and ensure other families in similar situations get the support they need.

"It is great seeing the old people come to the workshop because through them, their children can listen and learn what they learned from here about cancer and other lessons."

Also part of their awareness project the family also donated books and stationery for the village primary school.

"This is important to us because we value good education not only in families but in the schools for the children."

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