Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka yesterday disclosed that he had been living with prostate cancer but was recently cured.
Soyinka made the revelation at a press conference tagged: “Beyond Ebola and Beyond Reign of the Silent Killer,” held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The octogenarian, who was flanked by his son, who is also the Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Olaokun Soyinka and the President/Founder of the African Cancer Centre, Prof. Femi Williams, said he lived with the killer disease for over 10 months while undergoing treatment.
His younger brother, Prof. Femi Soyinka, was also part of the audience at the conference.
The senior Soyinka, who clocked 80 years in August, said he discovered that he was afflicted with prostate cancer in December last year.
He, however, said he was finally cured of the disease on October 28 this year.
The Nobel laureate stated that his public disclosure of being afflicted with cancer was borne out of the moral obligation he felt he owed the society, especially as a member of the African Cancer Centre, adding that he had to make his experience with cancer public to demystify the killer disease, which he assured was curable.
According to him, the revelation would encourage others suffering from cancer and compel those in charge of the health sector to take the treatment of the disease more seriously.
He said: “In November, last year, I discovered that I had cancer and I have been treating it. I finished treatment on October 28 and that is why I have come out to tell you this.
“Many people start looking at you as if you are a ghost; no! It is not a death sentence and it is curable. I have undergone the treatment and I even have a certificate and medal to show for it but I don’t normally wear decorations.
“I want to use myself to encourage others to take whatever test available to you in our limited circumstances here and more importantly to encourage those who are in charge of our health to take the cancer menace seriously.”
He advised Nigerians, particularly the womenfolk to check and test for cancer once they discover any unusual lump in any part of their bodies to tackle it before it is too late to manage.
“There are many ways of managing cancer; even diet. I have had to drink a lot of water and as many of you may know, water and I are not really friends,” he said.
Soyinka, who disclosed that unspecified funds had been earmarked for cancer research, urged the Federal Government to release the funds.
“We should have a diagnostic centre where people can go to be tested, treated and cured,” he added.
Also speaking, the President/Founder of the African Cancer Centre, Prof. Femi Williams, lamented the dearth of qualified oncologists in Nigeria. Williams identified cancer as a major disease responsible for capital flight from Nigeria.
“We don’t have qualified medical oncologists in this country and yet we have 220 qualified oncologists of Nigerian descent in the Diaspora.
“Most of these specialists are willing to come back home and others have interest in the African Cancer Centre,” he said.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Olaokun Soyinka, explained that the state was working towards building its own cancer institute.
He appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that “we build our own cancer capabilities,” expressing regrets that Nigerian oncologists in the Diaspora had not been given the opportunity to exhibit their expertise at home while other countries had taken advantage of them.