Questions To Udie Soko Founder and Executive Director at Zambian Cancer Society

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Udie Soko

What are you hoping for or looking forward to this year?

On a personal level, I have given myself a goal to run a half marathon which is about 21 kilometers by December 2016.   For the Zambian Cancer Society we are looking forward to training our first group of “Cancer Smart Advocates”!

How long has The Zambian Cancer Society been operating?

The Zambian Cancer Society was established in 2007 with the belief that every Zambian has a right to life. Our mission is to provide information and support to any Zambian affected by cancer irrespective of the type of cancer, age or gender.

 

You were the first Zambian to receive an invitation and scholarship from The American Cancer Society Pre-Congress Training, what did you gain from this experience?

Yes, and it was to attend the American Cancer Society University for a few days. The training culminated into the World Cancer Congress. What I gained was firstly the conviction that I could do whatever I set myself to do. Secondly, it gave me the confidence and tools to create the ZCS and thirdly, at the World Cancer Congress I participated at my first Relay for Life event which was such an overwhelming experience that I vowed that one day I would bring Relay to Zambia. Which, I did 6 years later.

How has the collaboration been since then between the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Zambian Cancer Society (ZCS)?

ZCS continues to work closely with ACS; especially that Zambia is a Relay country. Through Relay ZCS has built its capacity for example in leadership development, youth involvement and volunteerism.

 

Is the Zambian Cancer Society getting help to build its capacity?

Yes through our   membership of the Union for International Control (UICC) and the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC). For example, in November last year, I underwent training organized by AORTIC to become a cancer advocate master trainer.  ZCS will start training other advocates this year. Our goal is to train 100 advocates by 2020.ZCS

What can we do as individuals to change the way we approach cancer?

At least 40 percent of cancers can be avoided through the adoption of a healthy lifestyle. I would suggest we reduce our cancer risk by living healthily like engaging in regular exercise, not smoking and eating right.

 

What can we do in our community that is schools, higher learning institutions, and work and worship places to promote and encourage cancer education?

We live in a country where it is not generally easy to open up and talk about oneself, it is even more challenging to talk about cancer in an environment where disease is commonly shrouded in secrecy and fenced by silence. However, through talks, events and cancer advocates especially amongst the youth and so on we can break the silence and help combat negative myths and misconceptions and the fear about cancer

You called yourself a social entrepreneur at one point in your career. Does this still hold today?

 

100 percent. I continually strive to bring value to the country through our various activities. 

 

ZCS Milestones

 

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About Balekile Gausi

A prolific writer covering work, money and lifestyle that passed through university coming away with a very good grasp of public administration, money and banking, international relations. She was a civil servant that quickly opted for self-employment. And as a trained and published writer she has been freelance feature writing for several decades but has also published fiction in Drum and The BBC Focus on Africa Magazine. Now settled and living in Lusaka after many years of living in several cities in Africa and Europe; Balekile is also an avid bird watcher, is married with 3 adult children and has an extraordinary fondness for chikanda ( the Zambian delicatessen that vegans and non-vegans world-wide are putting on their bucket list!)

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