HARARE – Through the story of Talent and voices of Zimbabwean women leaders, a new film titled A Stitch in Time highlights the plight of the ordinary Zimbabwean woman in the struggle against cancer, and challenges us as a society to put our heads together for a holistic approach against this scourge.
A key character in the documentary is Talent Fadzai Yakado, a courageous and strong woman, who had cervical cancer, but is now totally healed, thanks to its early diagnosis and the treatment she got.
This short film shows that, although Talent is now free from cervical cancer, her journey was not easy due to a number of factors, including the unavailability of state-of-the-art cancer detection equipment, inadequate counselling facilities for cancer patients and the high costs involved.
The film’s director/producer Collen Magobeya says Talent’s experiences and struggles as a cancer patient motivated her to start a project aimed at advocating for proper, less expensive but more focused cancer treatment in Zimbabwe.
“She is undertaking community-based cancer education programmes ? through workshops and outreach campaigns ? all aimed at disseminating information, and educating especially the underprivileged members of society.
“As Talent narrates her story, leading women personalities echo her words in the short film.
“These include Zimbabwe’s Vice President, Joice Mujuru, Dr Tsitsi Magure a professional gynaecologist who specialises in cervical cancer, Mai Rebecca Chisamba (TV talk show host), Tendai Makonese (nun and media personality), Joyce Letitia Kazembe (Zimbabwe Elections Committee vice chairperson), Jessie Majome (Member of Parliament for Harare West), Lynnette and Tendai Mafunda (Co–founders of with Love Foundation).”
Magobeya says cancer of the cervix is the most common cancer in Zimbabwean women.
Cervical cancer has emerged to be the major public health challenge facing women in Zimbabwe today.
“According to the Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry, at least 32 percent of women diagnosed with cancer in 2010 had cervical cancer.
“Cervical cancer also accounts for about 15 percent of all cancer deaths in the same year.
“Ordinary women in Zimbabwe are at a greater risk of contracting this disease.
“The main cause of most cervical cancers is the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted.
“It is estimated that about 98 percent of women affected with cervical cancer in Zimbabwe are also infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
“Papillomavirus-related diseases are exacerbated by the HIV pandemic. This is bad news for Zimbabwe, where 60 percent of cancer patients are HIV infected,” said Magobeya.
Cancer awareness levels remain low in Zimbabwe, with limited and uncoordinated efforts to educate communities in place.
“There are many myths and misconceptions about cancer making the rounds in the societies due to limited information, with some simply dismissing it as witchcraft.
“This lack of knowledge often results in lost opportunities for successful treatment of the disease. People also fail to take preventative action against the disease."
“It is estimated that 80 percent of cancer patients get diagnosed when it is late (stages three and four).
Uptake of cancer detection services such as screening also remains depressed. This is mainly attributed to high costs and limited access,” added Magobeya.