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In fight against prostate cancer, a neglected killer

13th February 2013
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Dr. Emmanuel Kandusi, left, receives donations for his prostate cancer fighting cause. (File photo)

Once cancer treatment is over, cancer survivors usually cope with the new life in different ways. While some prefer to put their experiences behind them, others choose to draw on them and get involved with cancer activities or causes.

There is a wide range of ways of helping others, whether it’s taking someone to a doctor’s appointment or contributing money for their treatment.

Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Kandusi, a prostate cancer survivor, is the founder of 50 Plus Campaign, an NGO he established upon his return from treatment in India. He had decided to start his own campaign against prostate cancer.

He came up with the idea after he underwent a Bilateral Orchiedectomy surgery, a form of hormone therapy in 2008, which he had opted over an injection following his check up results which indicated a PSA score of 4517 ng/ml and adenocarcinoma of prostate Gleason’s Grade 8(4=4) with Bone Metastases. PSA means Prostate Specific Antigen, a test which indicates whether one needs further cancer investigations.

“When I returned to Tanzania I felt imperative to break the silence and this gave birth to 50 Plus Campaign”, he says.

“Most of year 2008 was miserable for me. I couldn’t work; I lived through handouts from my family, relatives and friends. I don’t want other men to be diagnosed late and go through the misery I went through. That is why I broke the silence for the benefit of others,” says Dr. Kandusi. A Chinese proverb that says, ‘to know the road ahead, ask those who are coming back,’ is what inspired the reverend to share his experience with the world. “I am the one coming back,” he notes.

Although Dr. Kandusi is in much better shape and spirit now, he is still fighting prostate cancer as it recurred in 2010 where his PSA had risen to 126.11 ng/ml, a sign that the cancer was likely to recur and in 2011 he experienced advanced prostate cancer recurrence.

To be able to fulfill his mission of ensuring no more men are going through what he himself went through, Dr. Kandusi is currently raising funds among other things. And some people are already showing support to this cause by donating generously.

Over the weekend 50 Plus received a donation in form of equipment worth 3.8m/- from VALHALLA F.C, a Masaki-based football club in support of the cancer awareness campaign. The items donated include a printer, DVD player and PSA test machine. “I understand the pain and misery this cancer inflicts on the patient because my father is suffering from it too,” said Andrew Perkin, a member of VALHALLA F.C tearfully. He added; “And I also understand that many people need our support whether material or moral. That’s why we are donating this equipment in support of the campaign.”

In a separate event, but held the same day, Tanzania 50 plus Campaign received a USD 5,000 cheque granted to Dr. Kandusi by a representative from Boston, USA in support of the organisation’s fundraising drive to purchase a minibus for its community outreach programmes.

"I am thrilled and humbled to receive this donation. I encourage you to continue showing support and I request all those who are touched in one way or another to contribute what they can to this cause. I assure you that it will change the lives of many affected by this disease in Tanzania,” Kandusi said.

The guest of honor at the fundraising event, Dr Lerise Mashingo of Ocean road Cancer Institute, stressed on the need to educate the public on cancer.

“I am glad that the two events have taken place. This is a step forward towards conquering if not eliminating cancer. I would like to remind you the theme of this year’s World Cancer Day which focuses on Target Number 5 of World Cancer Day Declaration: Dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer, under the tagline “Cancer- Did you know?” 

In educating people, this year’s theme emphasized the need to dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer, some of which include ‘Cancer is a disease of the wealthy’, ‘Cancer is a death sentence’ and ‘Cancer is a fate’.

Prostate cancer develops in the prostate, a gland that grows in the male reproductive system and the cells can spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes eventually causing pain, difficulty in urinating or even problems during sexual intercourse.

Globally, it is the sixth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men. Although it is common in the developed world, the disease is increasing at a high rate in Tanzania and yet only a few people are aware of it. This is because many are simply reluctant to go for check up, which leads to late diagnosis. Prostate cancer is generally a neglected killer. Despite being the most common cancer in men, prostate cancer doesn’t receive much research funding as breast cancer for women.

Research shows that by 2020, prostate cancer will have killed more than 20 million people and 75% of those cancer victims will be from developing countries.

According to Dr. Kandusi, the situation is even worse in Tanzania because only a few people are willing to go for medical check up and those who visit physicians do not take a PSA test which would confirm whether or not the patient has cancer.

The then Minister of Health, Dr. David Mwakyusa was once quoted as saying that only 10% of patients suffering from various types of cancer have been registering in the hospitals for medical check-up and treatment. The remaining 90% have not made any effort to attend medical check-up”. When it comes to prostate cancer, the minister had this to say; “We don’t have statistics on prostate cancer. But from general observations it seems the disease is affecting many people…Prostate cancer causes many deaths in the country because of lack of sensitization to the sufferers.”

Last year, Azania Bank donated 5m/- to support 50 Plus Campaign. The organization calls for support from private and public sectors and individuals who are touched by the campaign and want to conquer prostate cancer. Dr. Kandusi believes together we can conquer the disease.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN