Michelle C Madzudzo
The world commemorated World Cancer Day on February 4 2022, this day is meant to raise cancer awareness.
The Health and Child Care ministry, cancer stakeholders , international organisations, health professionals, cancer survivors and patients commemorated the day and the media was talking about cancer, but let me take this opportunity to remind the nation that cancer awareness goes beyond commemorating World Cancer Day.
Across the country, we have made some progress in cancer awareness over the last decade, but due to COVID-19 and its impact we must act decisively to ensure that cancer awareness, screening, diagnosis and care are maintained, and indeed enhanced, as we move forward.
Otherwise, the progress made in the last 10 years will be reversed in less than 20 months.
All parts of the cancer pathway were affected by COVID-19, while cancer awareness came to a stall.
Cancer must never be the “forgotten C” in the fight against COVID-19.
As a radiation therapist making strides against cancer, I have been doing whatever it takes to adapt to the ever-evolving situation and ensure the continuation of cancer awareness activities amid the pandemic.
Let’s raise awareness of cancer everyday and throughout the year by use of the cancer ribbons, an international symbol meant to show support or raise consciousness for a cancer cause.
Different colours are associated with different cancers.
This section of the article seeks to spread know-how on the various ribbons one can wear in spreading awareness on cancer and make sure that cancer awareness goes beyond World Cancer Day.
A light purple or lavender ribbon represents all cancers, some people are of the misconception that pink is the general cancer colour, the lavender ribbon can be worn anytime of the year.
Because every month is dedicated to a certain type of cancer, it is plausible for one to have a ribbon dedicated for each cancer month.
We kicked off the year with cervical cancer awareness month associated with the teal and white ribbon.
As Talk Cancer Zim, we offered virtual awareness sessions to the corporate world and the uptake was very poor.
I find that very worrisome, I believe that a healthy and well-informed workforce is productive and we seek to impart knowledge in that regard .
February is deemed National Cancer Prevention Month, where individuals are urged to take control of their health to minimise risk of cancer.
In March we have a variety of choices when it comes to ribbons, as three cancers are commemorated in one month.
One can have an option of orange for kidney cancers, burgundy for multiple myeloma and a dark blue ribbon for colon cancers.
In April we will be commemorating testicular cancers represented by a light purple ribbon, cancer of oesophagus is represented by a light purple ribbon while white and burgundy is for head and neck cancers.
It should be noted that head and neck cancers involve a range of different cancers including cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, nasal cavity, sinuses, and salivary glands.
Commemoration of brain, and skin cancers is set for May. A black ribbon depicts skin cancers. A gray ribbon, therefore, represents brain cancers.
June is Cancer Survivors Month, where we honour those who have survived cancer post-treatment. A lavender ribbon represents the noble cause.
Bone and bladder cancers are commemorated in July.
A yellow ribbon is for bone cancers while bladder cancer is denoted by a colourful ribbon of navy blue, yellow and purple, all on one ribbon.
September is quite a busy month as we commemorate all childhood cancers with a gold ribbon, all gynaecological cancers with a purple ribbon, Hodgkin’s lymphoma with a violet ribbon, non-hodgkins lymphoma with a lime green ribbon, leukaemia with an orange ribbon, prostate cancer with light blue ribbon, as well as thyroid cancers with a teal, blue and pink ribbon.
October is known as the Breast Cancer Month commemorated with the famous pink ribbon, however, liver cancer is also commemorated the same month with an emerald or jade blue worn in honour of liver cancer.
November is dedicated for the commemoration of lung, pancreatic, stomach, carcinoid and neuro-endocrine cancers.
It is also the caregivers month, where we commemorate health workers who are making strides in taking care and treating cancer patients.
December is dedicated to no cancer, a lavender ribbon can be worn again this month in commemoration of all cancers.
It is quite pleasing to note that you do not have to have a new ribbon every month but some can be used interchangeably.
Wearing a ribbon can help keep the public informed about cancer.
Let us all play our part in cancer awareness and fight for a cancer aware generation, this way ,cancer awareness goes beyond World Cancer Day