National Cancer Survivors Day – cancer survivors and supporters around the world united to recognize cancer survivors, raise awareness of the ongoing challenges cancer survivors face, and celebrate life.
The day brought together Cancer Survivors, Business Communities, and Policy Makers at the ibis Styles Hotel, Westlands to raise awareness of Survivorship Issues and flag out the challenges facing cancer survivors and their caregivers.
National Cancer Survivors Day is an annual worldwide Celebration of Life that is held on the first Sunday in June and this year marked the 34 th annual National Cancer Survivors Day.
Started in the USA, it is a day for everyone to join in solidarity with cancer survivors around the world, to raise awareness of the ongoing challenges cancer survivors face because of their disease, and – most importantly – to celebrate life. Cancer affects everyone, with nearly 42,000 people newly diagnosed each year in Kenya.
There are more than 43 million cancer survivors worldwide.
Cancer survivorship rates are much lower in Africa than in Western countries.
The 5-year survival rates for breast and other gynecological cancers in Africa are less than 50% and 30%, respectively, whereas in developed countries survivorship rates are 88% and 74%, respectively.
General Manager Stuart Clay noted that “Ibis Styles has offered this as corporate social responsibility, to celebrate survivors and honor them by giving them an opportunity to relax away from their daily hustle as well as support and be part of advocacy and policy making when it comes on issues related to quality of life of Cancer patients and those in remission”.
A total of 60 Survivors and Caregivers were hosted in the hotel that has a capacity of over 500 guests at any one time.
He further added that “we are happy to host the heroes, as they meet to deliberate on this very important subject matter and hopefully shape policy dialogue.
They are teaching us that there is life beyond a cancer diagnosis and we are happy to open our doors to them.
Our Team took stringent measures to ensure all government protocols were observed, for the safety of the survivors who were our guests”.
According to Benda Kithaka, Founder of Kilele Challenge, the low 5-year survival rates in Africa may be associated to lack of early detection, adequate diagnosis, and treatment facilities, resulting in a high proportion of illness presenting late, “It is also a sure sign of the quality of life after a cancer diagnosis since most treatments focus on the disease, not the person” she said.
ibis Styles teamed up with KILELE Health to recognize and honor the survivors who daily contend with life challenges beyond the cancer journey.
Drawn from across the country, the survivors were feted with a night away from home, with dinner, accommodation, and breakfast courtesy of ibis Styles Hotel Westlands.
Among them were Cancer Survivors who climbed Mt. Kenya in 2020, and the new participants who are preparing for the 2021 KILELE Challenge Cancer Survivors and Caregivers Climb.
COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges in survivorship, however, it is also an opportunity to build back better health systems.
And the time to shape that dialogue is now, to equip survivors with knowledge, skills, and tools that can help them transition to the new life of survivorship, building resilience to pick up the pieces and build a quality life beyond treatment.
2020 was the year to show that cancer survivors can dare and achieve things out of the norm, through the KILELE Challenge 2021, cancer survivors climbing Mount Kenya will also use the platform to raise funds to support survivorship advocacy and action in Kenya.
They are charting the way to show communities that there is life beyond the stigma, fear, and hardship that cancer has on people. We invite the public and policymakers to be a key part of the transformative experience by honoring survivors amongst us.