Last week, we brought the story of Gillian, a student who battled cancer and survived to tell the story. As we continue to put the spotlight on cancer through out the month of October, we learn how students from different Universities are using social media to counter the disease by campaigning for medical checkups within the student community and providing information through creative communication.
Gillian’s inspirational experience as a cancer survivor prompted a group of USIU students to form a group called ‘Cancer rebels’ that seeks to educate young people on various aspects of the disease including the benefits of getting early diagnosis, symptoms, and information on the various forms of cancer.
A condition that was in the past associated with the over 50 year-olds, is increasingly attacking the younger generation with the World Health Organization indicating cancer cases will go up by 50 percent by 2020. It is against this background, and the lack of adequate health information within the student community, that gave birth to cancer rebels.
‘’We have been thinking of forming the group to spread awareness about cancer but we were yet to actualize our plans. Now we have and we are not looking back,’’ said Audrey Kathurima, a USIU student and one of the eight members of cancer rebels.
The group has members from as far as Australia, Ireland, USA and Malaysia.
Cancer Rebels is creatively using social media to propagate their message. Their Facebook page ’Cancer Rebels’ has easy to read information as well as ingenious photos which make the awareness campaign interactive. The page also encourages fans to share their stories as well as experiences and photos.
The main challenge has been getting committed people to support the cause. There has also been skepticism from some quarters about their mission.
“We have noticed that it is mainly people who have somehow been affected by cancer that show interest, those who have not been affected generally lack interest. This is the attitude that we would like to change since cancer can affect anyone,’’ said Malcolm who is a founder member of the group.
We have noticed that it is mainly people who have somehow been affected by cancer that show interest, those who have not been affected generally lack interest. This is the attitude that we would like to change since cancer can affect anyone
The information provided by the group on their Facebook is concise and has been thoroughly researched. Their sources of information vary from books, websites and specialist doctors. With time they hope to work with companies and corporations so as to organize concerts and interactive talk shows where more consciousness about cancer can be spread. To connect with them you can check out their Facebook page ‘Cancer Rebels’ or follow them on twitter @cancerrebels.
The Pink Move
A more encompassing group of students involving medical students from the four medical schools (University of Nairobi, Kenyatta, Moi and Egerton Universities) have come together to form ‘The Pink Move’. The initiative aims to create awareness on breast cancer.
“It started when we (medical students) noticed the worrying trend of patients presenting to the teaching hospitals in late stages of breast cancer. Motivated to do something about it, The Pink Move was born,” says Karima Chiuri, a student member of ‘The Pink Move’
The core team consists of less than 10 students from across the four universities coordinating the activities but they have a bigger group of students within the Rotary and Rotaract Clubs of Kenya, who are partners of the Pink Move.
“We create awareness by holding training sessions with different groups of women of all ages and from all walks of life. We give basic training on breast self awareness and breast cancer including demystifying breast cancer, general facts and figures, myth busting and most importantly how to conduct Self Breast Exams.”
“Additionally, we use social media as a platform through our Facebook and Twitter pages. We hope in the future to have our message broadcast through print and electronic media,” Chiuri says.
The team focuses on early detection through education. Working with partners like iafya.org, The Pink Move would like to empower Kenyan women in the fight against breast cancer through education.
“Breast cancer prognosis in early detection is very optimistic,” adds Chiuri, a student at UoN medical school.
The year-long project aims to train as many women as possible and create as much awareness about breast cancer as well as monitor levels of awareness going forward.
The Pink Move on twitter (@thepinkmove)
Is your campus or college doing something about cancer? Have you been affected by cancer in one way or another? feel free to share > [email protected]