“I urge all men to have regular tests to check your own condition. Ask questions, demand answers and learn everything you can about this cancer, and tell others to do the same.” Hugh Masekela
This is the advice of the late Hugh Masekela, legendary jazz musician who was receiving treatment since 2008 when doctors discovered a small ‘speck’ on his bladder.
The reality that such a ‘dreaded disease’ is fast creeping up onto the modern man and settling in comfortably, destroying lives and families is quite discerning. While there are various medical institutions and organisations taking the challenge forward, there is still a sense that cancer has the upper hand over the lives of those affected by it.
Just before the death of Hugh Masekela, he said: “It is a tough battle but I am greatly encouraged by the good wishes of family, friends and everyone who has supported my musical journey, which remains the greatest source of my inspiration.”
The advise and praise by Hugh Masekela will continue to echo throughout the lives of every South African as he departed from this world after suffering and living with prostate cancer for just over ten years.
Some of the facts available to the public on the World Health Organisation website leaves a bitter taste in our mouths as we read through some of the facts as listed below;
- Cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases in 2012.
- The number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next 2 decades.
- Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.
- Approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries.
- Around one third of deaths from cancer are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.
- Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths..
- Cancer causing infections, such as hepatitis and human papilloma virus (HPV), are responsible for up to 25% of cancer cases in low- and middle-income countries.
- Late-stage presentation and inaccessible diagnosis and treatment are common. In 2015, only 35% of low-income countries reported having pathology services generally available in the public sector. More than 90% of high-income countries reported treatment services are available compared to less than 30% of low-income countries.
- The economic impact of cancer is significant and is increasing. The total annual economic cost of cancer in 2010 was estimated at approximately US$ 1.16 trillion.
- Only 1 in 5 low- and middle-income countries have the necessary data to drive cancer policy.
Moving forward there are pivotal questions that need to be confronted on this matter.
The talks globally are based on knowledge into action, strategies that can prevent and improve cure and care and medical devices for cancer management. We will continue to journey down this road of cancer and engage in the African narrative, its related symptoms, form and characteristics.