Film raises awareness of most common cancer for women

Motivated by the desire to educate the Zimbabwean community about the benefits of early diagnosis of cervical cancer, Collen Magobeya last week launched a new awareness-raising documentary.

A Stitch in Time, featuring Talent Fadzai Yakado, seeks to highlight the daily challenges faced by ordinary women suffering from cancer and present solutions to how the government and its partners could help reduce the burden of cervical cancer. Yakado, a courageous and strong woman, was diagnosed with cervical cancer, but is totally healed because she was diagnosed at an early stage. The documentary traces her journey through treatment to regaining her good health.

The documentary features a host of other key personalities in Zimbabwe, including the vice-president, Joice Mujuru, health and childcare minister David Parirenyatwa, gynaecologist and cervical cancer specialist Tsitsi Magure, Rebecca Chisamba of the Mai Chisamba television talk show, Chitungwiza Central Hospital chief executive officer Obadia Moyo, the Harare West MP Jessie Majome and the Book Café director, Paul Brickhill. “Due to financial challenges, we only managed to produce five DVDs as a starting point to invite partners to help us produce more,” said Magobeya.

The challenges shown in the film include the lack of state-of-the-art cancer detection equipment, inadequate counselling and the high costs associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Yakado’s experiences and struggles as a cancer patient motivated her to start a project aimed at advocating for less expensive but more focused cancer treatment in Zimbabwe.

She is carrying out community-based cancer education programmes – through workshops and outreach campaigns – all aimed at disseminating information, and educating people, especially those less well-off.

Cancer of the cervix is the most common cancer among Zimbabwean women. The Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry reported that at least 32 per cent of women diagnosed with cancer in 2010 had cervical cancer.

However, cancer awareness levels in Zimbabwe remain low and the disease is often associated with myths and misconceptions because of the limited information.

This lack of knowledge often results in lost opportunities for successful treatment of the disease and the majority of the women fail to take preventative action against the disease.

It is estimated that 80 per cent of cancer patients are diagnosed with cancer when it has progressed to advanced and difficult to treat stages.

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