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Nine First Ladies unite against cancer

From right: Femi Adebayo, Producer, Diamonds in the Sky; Evanglist Omolewa Ahmed, former First Lady of Kwara State; Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, First Lady of Ondo State; Dr Amina Abubakar Bello, First Lady of Niger State; Mrs Ibijoke Sanwoolu; First Lady of Lagos State; Erelu Bisi Fayemi, First Lady of Ekiti State; Joke Silva, Bimbo Akintola and Salami Adebayo at the event in Lagos recently.

…unveil logo
…premiere advocacy movie ‘Diamonds in the Sky’

By Josephine Agbonkhese

In an effort to effectively combat cancer in Nigeria, nine current and former First Ladies who synergised in 2017 and birthed First Ladies against Cancer, FLAC, a non-profit, officially unveiled a logo last Sunday in Lagos.

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Bearing ribbons of various colours, the logo represented the different types of common cancers, including blue for prostate cancer, pink for breast cancer and teal for cervical   cancer.

Among the First Ladies are Dr Florence Ajimobi, former First Lady of Oyo State; Erelu Bisi Fayemi, First Lady of Ekiti State; Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, First Lady of Ondo State; Evanglist Omolewa Ahmed, former First Lady of Kwara State; Dr Linda Ayade, First Lady of Cross River State; Dr Zainab Bagudu; First Lady of Kebbi State; Dr Amina Abubakar Bello, First Lady of Niger State; Dr Olufunso Amosun; former First Lady of Ogun State; and Monica Ugwuanyi, First Lady of Enugu State.

Giving an overview of FLAC at the gathering which drew the crème de la crème from both the political space and  entertainment industry, and also the private sector, including delegates of supporting partners—Sterling Bank, UBA Foundation, Roche Pharmaceuticals and Dangote Foundation, the First Lady of Kebbi State, Abubakar, said part of FLAC’s mission was to ensure government dedicated funding to the screening and treatment of cancer in Nigeria.

“FLAC is a coalition of NGOs run by former and current First Ladies who work within the cancer space. Our major work is advocacy because we realise that late detection is the leading cause of death among cancer victims. The synergy was formed in 2017.

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“We all have different NGOs and every one of us has stories to tell from our experiences with men and women who could have been helped if they showed up earlier.   Thus today, we are screening the movie, Diamonds in the Sky, in an effort to raise funds to combat cancer,” Abubakar said at the event which also witnessed a fundraising.

Speaking on behalf of the nine First Ladies during their presentation to the audience,   Akeredolu urged Nigerians to rise in unity and commit to spreading awareness against   cancer, emphasising   that only screening can make early detection possible.

She said: “We must also let everyone know that the next and best place to go to after detection is the hospital  and not a prayer   mountain. This is not to criticise faith;  we believe that faith and medicine can go hand in hand. Therefore, let Nigerian women and men understand that medical advancement has made a lot of things possible.

“For instance, breast  cancer no longer kills and even when you have a mastectomy,   you still have access to what looks like a normal breast. So, why not rise up, get screened and treated so that you stay alive for your children and family, watch your children go to school, get married and so on.

“Let us go to our neighbourhoods and spread the gospel of early detection because it indeed saves lives.”

The climax of the event was the premiere of a cancer advocacy movie Diamonds in the Sky, a star-studded family drama featuring Joke Silva, Bimbo Akintola, Femi Adebayo, Salami Adebayo, Toyin Abraham, Ayo Mogaji, Kolade Olaiya, Ali Nuhu, Omowunmi Dada, Mogaji Majinyawa, Yvonne Jegede-Fawole, Yemi Shodimu, Prof Ayo Akinwale and Ebun Oloyede. The movie directed by multi-award winning film Director, Kunle Afolayan, was produced by Femi Adebayo and LEAH Foundation, with support from Sterling Bank, One Woman.

FLAC comprises the   ABC Foundation; Above Whispers Media Foundation;   Breast Cancer Association   of Nigeria, BRECAN; LEAH Foundation;   Mediatrix Development Foundation; MEDICAID Cancer Foundation; Raise Foundation; Uplift Development Foundation and Hugo’s Touch of Life Foudation, U-TOLF, which are all, respectively, non-profits   of the nine collaborating   First Ladies earlier listed.

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Among dignitaries present at the event were Mrs Ibijoke Sanwoolu; First Lady of Lagos, who doubled as Host; Dame Abimbola Fashola, former First   Lady of Lagos State; Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan, former Deputy   Governor, Lagos State; Hajia Halima Abubakar, Group Executive Director,   Dangote Foundation; Oladipupo Hameed, Country   Manager, Roche.

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