Members of PSYCHOONCOLOGY Society of Nigeria (POSON) l-r Prof. Mike Asuzu, Prof. A. T. Ajekigbe, Dr. Elizabeth Akin-Odanye, Prof. Jude Ohaeri, Prof. Durosin Eti, Prof. Chris Bode(CMD, LUTH), Dr. Chioma Asuzu(President, POSON), Dr. Adeyemo(Deputy CMAC), Dr. M. Y. M.Habeeb(LOC Chairman) pose for a group photo during the event.

Recently, Psycho-oncology Society of Nigeria (POSON) held her 7th Annual Scientific Conference at the Surgical Skill Centre of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba Lagos.

Various states in the country sent their representatives for the four day programme with the theme “Psychosocial Support in Cancer Management in Nigeria – The Way Forward”, eminent personalities of international repute in medicine were at hand to do justice to the topic which had a sub theme “Depression and Cancer.”

Great speakers included Prof. Jude Uzoma Ohaeri, Prof. O.B. Campbell, Prof. A.T. Ajekigbe, Dr. Chioma Asuzu the president of the Society and her husband Prof. Asuzu who incidentally is a member of the board of trustees.  Prof. Chris Bode the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, was the chief host.

In her opening speech, the POSON President, Dr. Chioma Asuzu explained that “in organizing these conferences and workshops, POSON is creating awareness in the basic rudiments of psycho-oncology to attendees from all this country.  Our aim is that in due time, psycho-oncological practice will begin to take place in all the teaching hospitals and federal medical centers in the country.

POSON president explained that Psycho-Oncology was a field of interdisciplinary study and practice at the intersection of the medico-surgical and the psychological and social issues in Oncology.  She remarked that it was concerned with aspects of cancer that went beyond medical treatment and include the lifestyle, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of cancer which assisted the patients to adjust and cope with the burden of cancer, thereby enhancing their quality of life.

She vowed that the society would sustain the noble practice through the assurance of political will by the institutional leaders, as well as the training and retaining existing health personnel.  She thanked all for attending and appreciated the local organizing committee members especially Dr. M.Y.M Habeeb, the chairman in making the conference a success.

Presenting his own paper, Prof. Ajekigbe explained that more people currently suffer cancer due to ignorance which could be found in the type of food people eat, type of medication to avail themselves of when trying to cure cancer.

According to him, “Cancer is the only sickness that is social, spiritual, medical and psychological in nature.  It is a disease that does not and cannot discriminate against the rich or the poor, men or women, young or old, educated or illiterate, etc.”

Prof. Ajekigbe therefore advised patients to learn how to manage it instead of subjecting themselves to depression, mourning themselves while alive.  He made a passionate appeal to authorities concerned to repair the spoilt cancer machine in Enugu.

In his encouraging short speech, the chief host and chief medical director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, disclosed that it takes more than one discipline to treat a cancer patient.  He therefore advised the patients to have the will to live, have dignity in their approach to life.  He assured them that no Nigerian sick of the disease would be treated with neglect while pleading for financial support and appreciation of the patients by rich members of the society.

Mrs. Chika Nwabufo a cancer patient who came all the way from Enugu to attend the programme, lamented what she had been passing through as a cancer patient.  Apart from lack of finance to purchase highly expensive drugs needed, there was also social stigma cancer patients suffer in the society.  She pleaded for support from government, individuals, organizations and increase in awareness campaign on the disease and its maintenance.