Mary Gloria: Cancer Survivor Works to Counter Cancer Misinformation in Nigeria

Diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35, Mary Gloria Orji confronted the stigma to speak about cancer and formed a patient support group in that nation.

I am from Nigeria and I live in Nigeria.

I was 35 years old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and went through chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and hormonal therapy. When I was informed that I had cancer, I thought I was going to die. The next question I asked my doctor was how long I would have to live. My life simply stopped, and I abandoned the post-graduate program I was running at that time simply because there was no need to continue.

Before my diagnosis, I did not know that anyone could survive cancer. Years later, I decided to brave the stigma and spoke openly about my diagnosis to disabuse the minds of many Nigerians that cancer is a death sentence. Talking about it led to the formation of NePICiN [Network of People Impacted by Cancer in Nigeria]. the first cancer patient support group in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, where our members meet monthly to encourage one another, share experiences, and discuss how to improve the cancer journey.

We need to keep hope alive even though we lose many of our members due to misinformation, inadequate medical facilities and personnel, lack of clinical trials, and stigma of cancer patients in Nigeria. People actually see us as walking corpses. But we have refused to give up, especially since God has not given up on us.

Read about Mary Gloria’s instrumental advocacy, presented at the 2023 AACR Annual Meeting.

Whether you are a patient, survivor, caregiver or loved one touched by cancer, your story can have an enormous impact. You can provide hope and inspiration to someone recently diagnosed with cancer or a patient undergoing therapy.

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