By Dr Ahmed Mohiuddin Siddiqui
The Sultanate of Oman is leading the fight against cancer at the international stage. A not-so-large country, Oman has made giant strides in preventing and fighting cancer, which has made the global community sit up and take notice.
Like the yesteryears, the Oman Cancer Association (OCA) commemorated the World Cancer Day, which falls on 4th February every year with a series of programmes and free cancer detection tests for females and males.
In his presidential address, Dr. Wahid Ali Said Al Kharousi, the dynamic president of the Oman Cancer Association shed light on the significance of the World Cancer Day.
He lamented that cancer is synonymed as a ‘disease of death!’ He urged the people to prevent cancer and fight cancer through regular examinations.
Narrating his experiences, Dr. Wahid admitted that, ‘in our community people do not like to talk about cancer as it is stigmatized.’
He opined that children and women are mostly affected if a family member has cancer. There are socio-economic effects of the disease too, he elaborated.
Dr. Wahid observed that when a woman gets cancer, her family is destroyed and devastated. He urged the people to be supportive of cancer patients and their families.
Citing lack of awareness about cancer, he pointed out that ‘everybody is a doctor from Google!’ He wanted the people to get correct information about the disease from professional doctors.
He enumerated the different activities of the OCA to bring succor to the cancer patients, especially those from the economically weaker sections of the society who come from the different far flung regions of the country.
He mentioned about Dar Al Hanan – a house for cancer affected children in Muscat, which provides free stay and food. He also pointed out that there are 3 mobile mammography vans, which have screened 23,000 free mammograms to women and helped in early detection of cancer.
He asserted that OCA is for providing services to the citizens and residents without any discrimination.
Describing about cancer to one of his family members, Dr. Wahid was overwhelmed with emotions. Regaining his composure, he affirmed that ‘we are proud to get the world to Oman.’
He expressed his great pleasure to announce that the Sultanate of Oman will be holding an international conference on cancer in October 2020.
It is significant to note that Oman pipped Brazil and Singapore to the post to bag the chance to hold an international conference with 4,000 delegates from across the globe.
In all, 55 countries competed to hold the conference. He lauded the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), a global Non-Governmental Organisation working for the cancer patients worldwide.
The event held at Oman’s only 7-star state-of-the-art Hotel Bustan Palace, which was the main sponsor attracted huge crowds from different strata of society – cancer patients, survivors, doctors, nurses, teachers, and students.
It began on a somber note and prayers for His Majesty the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who passed away last month.
OCA Board member and noted cancer specialist Dr. Rajyashree Narayanan Kutty enlightened the gathering with her informative lecture peppered with wit but expressing reality very lucidly.
She recalled that the late Sultan Qaboos cared for healthcare. She said that there is no single cause for cancer. She disclosed that there are more than one thousand types of cancer.
She suggested Pap Smear Test 5 days after menses to check for cancer. She shed light on the increasing incidence of breast cancer among women and men.
She informed that about 4 men are detected with breast cancer in Oman every year.
Dr. Rajyashree dispelled some wrong notions about cancer. She stated that cancer does not spread by hugging.
In fact, she urged people to hug cancer patients to make them feel wanted in society. Hugging soothes and comforts the patients. She suggested that the girls should start regular self breast examination after their first menses.
She also suggested to men above 45 years to go for the PSA blood test regularly to rule out prostate cancer. She informed the nursing mothers that cancer is not transferred through breast feeding.
She felt that there is a need to counsel cancer patients and their families. She urged for strong intra-family support – to be there for family members whenever needed.
She paid handsome tributes to Yuthar Al Rawahi, a 4-time cancer survivor and founding president of OCA for her excellent services till date to bring awareness to help prevent and detect cancer and treatment facilities.
OCA Board members Dr. Manal bint Abdul Majeed Al Zadjali, Dr. Rajyashree Kutty and other board members contributed in successful organization of the World Cancer Day event.
Dr. Manal’s presence guarantees larger participation since she is involved in many community activities throughout the year. There were serpentine queques at the free testing venue on the sidelines. Dr. Manal and Dr. Rajyashree ran the show smoothly.
The national and international print and the electronic media covered the World Cancer Day event extensively. Women’s empowerment can be seen in all spheres of life in Oman.
The English Daily Oman Observer sent versatile woman journalist Lakshmi Kothaneth to cover the event.
The affable Adam Cole was making waves for Radio Oman FM. From the international media, the presence of The Maravi Express at the World Cancer Day event was much appreciated by the OCA president Dr. Wahid Al Kharousi and the OCA board members.
Dr. Rajyashree leads by example. She pleaded for strong intra-family support during her lecture. Soon after, when she got news that her 82-year old mother fell and broke her arm.
The dutiful daughter Rajyashree rushed to India immediately to attend to her mother and get her to Muscat. She practiced what she preached. Thus, she gave a real and practical message with her exemplary behavior of ‘being there for the family whenever needed.’
Oman Cancer Association has a precious asset in Dr. Rajyashree. She walks the talk! She turned out to be a real hero on the World Cancer Day.