~ Debo Ikuesewo-Akinbami
“The idea of overcoming is always fascinating to me. It’s fascinating because few of us realize how much energy we have expended just to be here today. I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for overcoming.” ~ Maya Angelou
She sauntered in, resplesent, and shoulders high. Her gaze as of eagle aiming squarely at measured altitude. Even her gait suggested a soul that has seen seasons. And truly, she has. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, Ondo governor’s wife and fixed friend, beaten by seasons, had arrived to speak to the theme “Breast Cancer brought out the best in me”, to relive the phenomenal cancerous collision, the tone of time and taste of survival.
For her close watchers and enthusiasts, the story reads a tale twice told, moreso that the legendary account has repeatedly been given at various times and tents. It’s true that Betty was bruised, but she was not broken. In retrospect, she called the bruise a blessing in disguise. The experience, in her own estimation, changed the course of her life. And she, like Carol Baldwin, her survivor of example, has since been committed to saving lives at dire costs.
Betty’s survival story, beyond its thrillers, holds greater imports. And that is how her dedication to campaign on awareness and the staggering resources being expended on diagnosis and treatment must make a new attention. On this route, her strides should engage our minds afresh. That Mrs. Anyanwu-Akeredolu, over two decades after, has become a leading campaigner and about the fattest fundraiser for breast cancer research in this clime is a sturdy statement.
The chronicle holds Anyanwu-Akeredolu out as a figure of courage. She is a proud survivor of cancer. And she is even prouder to associated with the laurels that Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, BRECAN, her brain child, has achieved in the line of its charge, yet Betty worries that women still suffer in silence inspite of the fact that her voice has been so loud to the effect that surviving breast cancer is all about attitude.
She is disturbed that women still ascribe spiritual definitions to cancer and sit by when they should go for diagnosis and possibly mastectomy, and so making their cases to deteriorate before heading to the hospitals. Betty tells the world that if she could survive cancer, every other woman can also survive it, which is why she daily devotes time, talent and wherewithal to the fight against cancer so that no woman dies of breast cancer out of ignorance.
Having survived the cancerous bite, Betty wants every woman to live and fulfil dreams. Small wonder her awareness campaign has been on the need for early diagnosis, to be certain if a lump is the benign or cancerous one, since only a test could tell. She holds the view that women should routinely perform breast self-examination, which is convenient and at no-cost tool, being part of the overall breast cancer screening strategy.
Betty’s encounter with cancer particularly positioned her as a champion of the womenfolk. And this is founded. In no far past, muse had portrayed her as a seasoned battler. Prism, at the point of portrait was not the cancerous occurrence per se. The writer, at depth, was tangentially checking his subject’s previous wins while weighing them against the weight of works that she daily deals with, and the repeatedly resultful outcome of each venture.
She has done listless things spiritedly, and successfully. Those who know her beyond the cursory conjectures of the media would tell how true and thorough that Betty is. One only needs to correctly define her works to explain her worth. She does not deal in a subject unless she’s convinced and correct. And when she gets involved, she’s daring and dogged, with unflinching gaze on goal, and that is what she is doing with cancer campaign.