For decades, the world has believed the misconception that AIDS is the number one killer disease among humans. This is against evidence by medical research that in fact, cancer is the leading cause of death the world over. In an attempt to bring awareness to this, organisations such as the Journey of Hope Botswana, a volunteer, non-governmental organisation focuses on bringing breast cancer awareness to women and assisting with the treatment, support and care of breast cancer patients in Botswana.
Conceptualised in 2008 as a fund-raiser for patients who needed medical assistance for breast cancer, the Journey of Hope has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, and in 2010, created a flagship annual awareness campaign event called The Big Journey. During this campaign, the riders use their pink Vespas as a marketing tool and hold testimonial appearances, talks, breast examinations and awareness workshops in our communities, spreading the message of knowledge and hope about this highly treatable disease across the country.
In 2012, Botswana Life Insurance Limited, the country’s most experienced and largest life insurer, joined forces with the Journey of Hope Botswana, to create a conducive environment where women and men could be assisted to carry out breast examinations in privacy. Botswana Life purchased two (2) medical gazebos measuring 2.5m x 2.2m each, with four (4) walls, a zip-up door and a window, where the examinations take place with the assistance of local nurses. Commenting on this sponsorship, the Marketing and Communications Manager of Botswana Life, Kelly Loeto, says that it was a refreshing and rewarding experience to work with the Journey of Hope and support such a noble cause.
“The breast cancer statistics in Botswana are quite unnerving. Even more so, is the fact that many patients go undiagnosed and therefore untreated until it is very late. The JoH is doing a remarkable job by creating awareness about the disease and encouraging early detection. What motivated our collaboration with them is the fact that as a life insurer, it is also in our interests to ensure that dread diseases such as cancer are detected early and given the right treatment in order to reduce mortality rates, extend the lives of the affected and improve the quality of life of families and our communities”.
“The feedback we received from the Journey of Hope about the increasing number of exams carried out this year, assures us that our support has not been in vain. According to the statistics shared with us, in 2012 alone, a total of 1 638 breast exams were performed, of which 232 were male and 1406 were female. This is compared to a total of 800 in 2011,” Loeto says.
Nicola Holgate, the Public Relations Manager at the Journey of Hope, says that the organisation’s mandate also grows every year. “In 2010 we began with only awareness and self-diagnosis education; in 2011 we added breast exams and this year, we have added further value by being able to issue a referral for further medical interrogation where necessary. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I’d like to encourage everyone to go for a checkup and their annual mammogram. We need to work together to fight breast cancer. Cancer is a treatable disease and there is no reason why men and women should still be losing their lives to it when early detection is possible,” says Holgate.