Samoa Cancer Society prepares for Sei Pua Day

The Samoa Cancer Society [S.C.S.] will mark Sei Pua Day on August 28 and use the occasion to do awareness on cancer as well as raise funds.

S.C.S. Chief Executive Officer, Su'a John Ryan, told the Samoa Observer that the Sei Pua Day will be the first major fundraising event for them this year.

He said the society normally has a number of activities in its annual calendar but most have been postponed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

"We are still going to progress with Sei Pua which is one of the main activities we do to raise awareness of Samoa Cancer Society and to remind people that Cancer really is a real thing," he said during the interview.

"I think it is very important that we do this now because of COVID-19 and because of the measles."

People need to be aware of the dangers of cancer, said Su’a who added that while the public is focused on the pandemic, there are people still suffering from cancer and a healthy lifestyle needs to be promoted. 

"Even though we are COVID-19 aware and prepared and cautious, but it doesn't mean that there aren't people that are still suffering from cancer or might be diagnosed, and it doesn't stop us from promoting a healthier lifestyle that can reduce your chances of cancer.”

The S.C.S. has been hosting the Sei Pua Day since 1998 and this year’s event will also see the society selling sei pua flowers as part of its fundraising. 

Su’a said the public can support their fundraising effort by buying the flowers on August 28.

“There will be Sei Puas from the Samoa Cancer Society for sale and people can support the Samoa Cancer Society by buying one of the Puas that we have," he added. "We just really want to get the message out there that we are here and there is a conversation that has to keep going on about cancer and cancer awareness.”

The S.C.S. has received project funding from the Civil Society Support Programme [C.S.S.P.] and the New Zealand High Commission Emergency Fund, which Su’a said the society is thankful for. 

But during the state of emergency [S.O.E.] lockdown, they had to make contingency plans if they experienced lack of funding.

"It takes a lot of resource planning and creative thinking as well," Su’a highlighted.

The countdown to August 28 has begun for the S.C.S. and its members with the C.E.O. saying it was an opportunity to get out and about to interact with people, and get their messages out into the public domain.

"This is a key part of what we do which is cancer awareness and so that people don't forget about it. It is easy to think about COVID-19, but we have to remember that if you forget about things like cancer awareness, we can let our guards down and we might expose ourselves to some of the things that will increase our chances of getting it," he said.

"The chances of you getting a severe case of COVID if you smoke are substantial which is in line with our message for cancer prevention is to stop smoking.”

Su’a said if you are a smoker and stopped smoking, it immediately decreased your chances of getting cancer. 

The Sei Pua Day is Samoa's version of the Daffodil Day Campaign for Cancer which is also celebrated in Australia and New Zealand in August.

Samoa does not naturally have daffodils, but has an abundance of the plumeria/pua flowers from which the event in Samoa gets its name.

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