It was in July 2013 that Ida Ceesay-Ndiaye was diagnosed with breast cancer. The news of the diagnosis came at a terrible time as Mrs. Ndiaye was then pursuing her master’s degree in Public Administration at Strayer University in the United States.
“I felt a lump in my breast, went to the doctor who confirmed that it was cancer. I was devastated and scared because I had a young family, a husband and I just started my master’s program,” she recalled.
Ida explained that her reaction to the doctor’s prognosis was one of frustration given that almost every report on breast cancer talked about that stage where it becomes incurable, thereby leading to death.
Being the woman she is, Ida did not allow her condition to stop her from pursuing her studies and attending to her family. “It was a very crazy moment for me, but I continued with my studies, took care of my family and [respected] my treatment,” she recounted.
According to a September 2018 report on breast cancer by the U.S Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast cancer is a disease in which the cells in the breast grow out of control. Possible symptoms of breast cancer as detailed by the report can be: a new lump in the breast or underarm, thickening or swelling of parts of the breast, irritation or dimpling of breast skin, redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast, among others.
Having stuck to her treatment regime until she became fully cured and with her master’s degree already in the bag, Ida Ceesay wasted no time to set up her own foundation geared towards raising awareness on breast cancer among women.
When Ida and others came to the realization that there existed multiple actors working to promote awareness around breast cancer in the country, they decided to join forces together to form what is today known as the The Gambia Cancer Associations League.
“With this league of ten associations, we believe that we can impact more,” she asserted. Ida and team are now poised to roll out a line-up of activities as part of the breast cancer awareness month. She appealed to women of all ages to take their health with the utmost care by way of frequent medical check-ups, especially when they feel abnormalities in their breasts. Ida also revealed that anyone can get breast cancer and is not necessarily hereditary as misunderstood by many. Nonetheless, those that are most at risk of suffering from the disease are people with a family history of breast cancer.
In the same line, Ida advocates that women take charge of their health and that includes going for regular breast cancer screenings. “Our problem in The Gambia is, people don’t go for checkups when they feel abnormalities in their bodies at an early stage, instead they wait till it gets worse and this is a problem, but if people go for regular breast cancer screening no one will die of Breast Cancer!”