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I wish all my Readers a happy, healthful, hopeful and prosperous New Year. I pray that we all transition smoothly into 2016.

We are at the end of the year. What a year it has been. It’s been very exciting for us at Safe Haven Cancer Support Society.

We registered the non-profit in February 2015 and made the dream to help people who have been touched with cancer a reality. Now we must build on our dream.

Our organization’s vision is very simple. We aim to support people as they go through the hard journey of cancer diagnosis, treatment and after treatment. We want people to know that they do not have to go through the journey alone. Our main service that we are currently able to provide is to support people by telephone calls to provide encouragement as they go through the journey.

We offer suggestions on how to deal with stress and how to approach your health care providers for answers to your questions and concerns regarding your condition. Again, we want to emphasise that we are not medical professionals or trained counsellors. I use my own experience to encourage others. I recognise that everyone is different and by no means profess that my experience may necessarily be relevant to everyone going through this experience. I encourage people to take what is helpful to them from the organization's website and to seek professional medical advice and treatment from their healthcare providers.

As the organisation obtains funds from fundraising activities and donations from people who support this vision, we will expand our services to offer programmes to support cancer patients, survivors and their families in our communities and in Ghana. Our ultimate goal is to set up an office in Ghana where our services are very much needed.

The service we provide is very important and crucial to saving lives. We found that people are dying prematurely because they do not obtain help in time to save them when they discover they have cancer. This is especially true in Ghana.

Between 2013 and now, I had the honor of knowing a couple of incredible women who had so much to offer but who died because they did not seek help in a timely manner after they discovered lumps in their breasts.

The first person I spoke to said she was afraid and did not act after she discovered the lump in her breast because she thought it would go away. In fact she did nothing for a year and finally sought help when the lump started oozing and she could no longer bear the pain. She eventually had surgery and chemotherapy but the cancer had spread too much and she eventually passed on after a year from when she sought treatment. She would probably be alive if she had acted earlier.

The second person was referred to me by her friend who was worried because she was refusing treatment. Again she was afraid of the treatment. I managed to talk her into taking the treatment but again the cancer had spread too much and she also died. These situations may be preventable if acted on early enough.

When I was going through my experience I met people who had survived cancer multiple times over decades. A cancer diagnosis does not equate to instant death. People need to know that. The fear surrounding a diagnosis and treatment has to be dispelled so people can continue to live their lives freely and fully with the confidence that they are not on the verge of death.

I learnt in October this year whiles doing a radio talk show in Ghana that people who have breast cancer are believed to be witches. So these people do not disclose or seek medical help because of the fear of stigmatisation.

We need to educate our communities and society about the need to support people with cancer instead of stigmatising and ostracising them. Encouragement and offering hope can save many lives.

We are counting on your help to do this great work. God needs willing hearts and hands to serve the most vulnerable in our communities and society. Would you be that person?

I will continue my story next time. Happy New Year!!

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