- JCI (Jeune Chambre Internationale) of Fianarantsoa
- The Soroptimist Club of Fianarantsoa
- The Young Leaders of Fianarantsoa
- Girl Scout Leader of Madagascar
- Victorine RASOAMALALA
- ANDRIAMIADY Tantely Mahefa
- RAOLIARISON Tiana Ursula
- RAZANAZAFY Maria Goretti
- RASOANANDRASANA Marie Juliette
- RAHANTANIRINA Soa Nomenjanahary
- ENFANTS DU SOLEIL
- RAZAFIMANDIMBY Alain Kevin
- Sister Mary Justine / Sister Florine
Ever since the opening of this Center, we started working as partners with the Akbaraly Foundation first and then with the La Vita Per Te NGO.
These awareness campaigns fit perfectly with the fundamental values of the JCI (Jeune Chambre Internationale), whose motto is “serving humanity is the noblest of all deeds”.
We have walked hand in hand with the Foundation, putting our talents and capabilities at the disposal of the population thanks to this important prevention Center called “Rex”, which helps us fight agains uterine and breast cancer.
We started carrying out several awareness campaigns with entertaining activities at the Fokontanys or in the local neighborhoods, and we immediately noticed that some women did go to the Rex for a preventive screening – a trend that continues to this day.
Nevertheless, it is not always easy to convince women to come in for a medical examination: often, we need to go back more than once in order to explain to them that awareness and prevention are very important for them, for their families and for the whole country.
Even though we are not medical experts, we try to explain to them the technical details of the screening tests for uterine and breast cancer as best as we can. The main goal for us is to communicate our message effectively in order to convince women, which we can only do thanks to the skills that the staff and the managers of the Rex Center have taught us.
Simply knowing that a woman has been convinced and that she has been screened is cause for great satisfaction for us, because it means that another person will have the chance to prevent this illness: to us, it feels like saving a life, even though obviously our awareness campaigns are targeted at healthy women, as opposed to those who already suffer from cancer.
This Center is truly part of the assets of the Haute Matsiatra region, because its doors are open to the entire population, regardless of their social status.
Finally, we want to thank Mrs. Cinzia Catalfamo Akbaraly, the President and Founder of this Project, for picking Fianarantsoa as the location for this Center. We are also very grateful to the managers who work here “on the field”, as well as the staff and personnel, for their helpfulness and commitment to support the Malagasy population, and women in particular, in the fight against uterine and breast cancer.
Among our other activities, cancer awareness and prevention are an important part of our mission because they can really improve a women’s life.
As a women’s Club and a partner of the Akbaraly Foundation, we put ourselves at the disposal of the Foundation and of La Vita per Te NGO, because we really care about involving women and raising awareness on the importance of cancer prevention.
We carry out several awareness and information campaigns, which involve university students, teachers, groups of women and a number of associations. The scope of our activities isn’t limited to the city of Fianarantsoa, but we also operate in other districts.
Having a health center that specializes in the detection and prevention of breast and gynaecological cancers is a true privilege for the population of the Haute Matsiatra region.
Not only is the center fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and tools, but also the most important thing is the presence of a qualified team who does its best to raise awareness and convince women to come to the Rex for a screening, in order to take care of their health. Here, this isn’t easy at all, but thanks to their talent and good will we can say that many mothers and young women have manage to escape this terrible disease.
We want to thank the founder of this project, the managers and the entire team, BRAVO! You are doing an excellent job.
We are an organization working for the Health and Leadership of young adolescents in Fianarantsoa and we take care of the teenagers who attend the public Center for General Education, which is part of the School District of the Haute Matsiatra Region.
Our organization is made up of by young university students, between the ages of 18 and 25. The main targets of our missions are young people: we offer free classes on reproductive health, creating leadership and fighting cancer are part of our main activities.
Thanks to the training we received by the team at the Rex center, we had the opportunity to realize an awareness campaign trying to convince young people to get screenings to prevent cancer and explaining them the terrible consequences of this disease. In order to make them understand how important this is, we always tell them that good health is needed to contribute to the development of our country: indeed, if they were ill, they would not be able to work towards this goal and they would become a burden for their family and for society.
We also try to spread the same messages through play activities. Even though we are young, we are really passionate about this topic: all of us have a mother or a sister, and women are not the only ones who need to be aware of this issue. We actually go with our female acquaintances to the Rex center when they go get their Pap smears done.
We are so glad we have the opportunity to work with La Vita per Te NGO and the Akbaraly Foundation, they are our main partners and we are extremely grateful for that. Thank you for thinking about the youth of Fianarantsoa, the Leaders of Tomorrow – we are lucky to have this center in our town, because it will allow the development of our region and, most importantly, of the future generations.
We are happy to participate to this Celebration of the World Cancer Day with you all. We will continue to promote this cause and talk about this issue with young people like us, because we can all give our contribution to fight against breast and uterine cancer.
Thank you again, our talents are completely at your disposal.
We are here in Fianarantsoa for another mission, so we made the most of today and participated to the celebration of the World Cancer Day: you invited us, and here we are.
We are very impressed with the organization of this event, and we really want to encourage you to continue with your work because the population needs you.
As educators and leaders of the Girl Scout movement in Madagascar, we have an obligation to raise the girls that are part of our organization as if they were our own daughters. This is why we asked them to take part to this celebration of World Cancer Day: so that they will be aware that their health matters, because they are our future. They will all have to be responsible, so it is important that they know all the necessary precautions to take, and that a simple Pap smear can really keep us safe.
The awareness campaigns are very important to correct misconceptions, because a health problem does not necessarily mean that we have cancer.
Since we are lucky enough to have such a center in Fianarantsoa, the REX, the most important thing is to convince everybody to get screened to prevent cancer. Today we were told that we can only fight breast and uterine cancer if we work together, so I am going to try and get everybody I know involved in this fight by talking to them about preventive screenings.
In the past this was a taboo subject: we were afraid of showing our bodies even to our doctor because we were ashamed, but now, thanks to the evolution of technology and after the opening of this center in Fianarantsoa, we can all talk about this thanks to the messages spread by the Rex’s medical personnel, which fight fear, shame and death. Furthermore, here we can benefit from a free service, which means that every social class can take full advantage of it.
For female solidarity, we will mark this date in the history of the Girl Scouts movement, not only in Fianarantsoa but in the whole of Madagascar.
I am a 49 year old single woman, mother of an 18 year old son, I work as a washerwoman.
On the morning of 6 May 2010, while I was taking a bath, I noticed a small lump, kind of like a bean, in my right breast. It didn’t hurt, it just bothered me a little bit, so I didn’t worry about it too much. I talked about it with my friends: some of them told me to go to the doctor, whereas others just told me to leave it alone because it wasn’t serious.
Two months later, one of my nieces who studies Human Sciences at the University came to visit me. I told her about my situation and showed her the lump: she immediately convinced me to go to the doctor, because one of her friends had had a similar problem and it had turned out to be breast cancer. I told her that the only thing I know about cancer was that it was a true plague.
Anyway, my niece was really insistent and set all my appointments: after a couple of months I finally got an appointment with an oncologist in a public hospital. I was treated well, I was prescribed a mammogram and all the necessary exams. The result: breast cancer. I was truly shocked, and I was also completely out of money at this point.
I couldn’t do anything, I had to forget about it, but meanwhile the little lump became bigger, so I came back to the oncologist in September 2011. I should have done all the exams again, but I had no money, so the doctor told me to stop waiting and, after explaining all the symptoms and the evolution of this disease, told me to start chemotherapy right away, 8 cycles of it. But, as I said, I didn’t have enough money, so I came home crying, I didn’t take any medication, I didn’t do anything, didn’t listen to anybody’s advice.
In December 2011, after a long period of reflection, I decided to talk to my family about it. All of my relatives, luckily, decided to support me and help me financially, so I came back to the oncologist for the third time and she tried to convince me to do 4 cycles of chemo and then get surgery – I agreed, I couldn’t wait to get better.
I had my first chemo on 22 December 2011, and then another cycle every 21 days. Unfortunately, the money I had only lasted for the first three cycles, but I didn’t give up, I talked to the doctors and to the other patients to find a solution.
In January 2012, a patient that I had shared the room with told me about the Akbaraly Foundation and accompanied me to their center, where I was welcomed by one of the managers and by her smiling, friendly team. I told them about my situation and showed them my case sheet – it was a good moment, that I will always keep in my memories. After a long conversation, the Foundation’s doctors told me to come back at the same time the next day – ever since then, the Akbaraly Foundation is in charge of all my treatment, I never skipped a chemo and everything went great.
I still keep going to the Foundation, I am very grateful to all of you because it is only thanks to your support, assistance and encouragement that I could find the strength to live and to share with my son and my friends this life that God has given me.
I would like to thank the Founder and President, Cinzia, for her strength and determination and for creating the Akbaraly Foundation, for thinking about the health of the Malagasy mothers and for being the only one, as far as I know, to worry about female cancers in Madagascar.
Good luck to the whole team and long live the Akbaraly Foundation!
I’m, Mahefa Tantely ANDRIAMIADY, 33 years old, married, I have two children (11 years old son and 6 years old daughter) I live with my family and I really love them.
I’ve been living with this breast cancer since 2014, one day, when I took my bath I felt a very strange bottom on my left breast, as I used to work in a textile company, we had our private medical Center, I went directly to the doctor and explain to him what’s happen. He prescribed a lotion to apply into my breast for some days. But it became more and more painful, I returned to see him again.
He recommended me to see directly an oncologist. After some medical analysis, I had a nodule, then I was obliged to do a mammography, the result, I had a breast cancer, I need to be operated as soon as possible.
I was very upset of this terrible news, I didn’t know what to do, in one word it’s a very strong shock for me. My husband didn’t say anything when I told to him that I had a breast cancer and need an urgent. The night seems very long to me, the same problem appears night by night. I was still thinking about the expenses that I have to prepare, I am not working since my employee knew that I had a breast cancer, consequently, I had financial problem, whereas I had to find 800 000 Ariary for my operation.
However, I never stop praying, I was still thinking about the future of my 2 children, then I have in my mind that whatever my problem, I hope that I had to face of this disease and I will get over of it.
Thanks to my friends help, I could collect all the money by selling some cakes, necessary for the surgical operation that I had to do as soon as possible. Following to the suggestion of my family and my friends, I was decided to go to a public Hospital in Mahitsy, for my breast surgery, I met directly the doctor, he was very kind, we had a very long conversation, the surgical operation was successfully done.
After that, I should have done 2 chemotherapies, however I could not do it because of a financial problem, even if the doctor told me that this will be the best treatment that I have to do, I begun the first chemotherapy on September 2015, in order to help me to afford all the therapy, the doctor suggested me to go the Foundation Akbaraly.
This Foundation supported me financially as they could do, I never forget the first day I went there, I felt that I was in a good hand, from this time I belong to a family of this Foundation, this is my second home, I went there when I’m not in a good mood, especially when I had health problem even if just to see the doctor and the staffs, they are so kind with us.
We, patients, really love the Foundation, a best place for all of us to share our experience, to express our sympathy and to get some courage, it’s very important because it really helps us to fight against this disease. Thanks to you help, your support, we can survive sometimes we forget our disease.
Thank you very much Mrs Cinzia, I hope we will meet one day.
“Live the present moment, do not waste time for anything, do not wait for tomorrow if you have something that you have to do, each day has its sense”.
I have also a message to the Ministry of Health in Madagascar, public hospital’s services like CHU-HJRA need to be ameliorated and need more control, because there is not any consideration to cancer’s patients. Furthermore, they are very severe, not serious and create some difficulties, not only patients become a clinical experimentation but surgical operation’s cost is very expensive. We are afraid, instead of fighting against our illness we fight also against other things; we are afraid.
Nowadays, I’m feeling better than before, even if I need to take some medicines for several years. It’s not a problem to me, I’ve got a new life, and so, I’m decided to look for a new job.
43 years old - married without children Breast cancer
“Cancer is not the end of your life”
First of all, it’s necessary to trust in God, then having a positive vision, once you begin a treatment, especially the chemotherapy, follow it carefully till the end, even if it’s very expensive.
Share with the other person your real life experience, it may help them to realize that it’s very important to make an exchange and they can have normal life and can make new friends too.
Finally, I’d like to be thankful to the Fondation Akbaraly, especially to the President Mrs Cinzia Akbaraly, we can have an insurance that we are not alone, your support materially and psychologically are very important, thank you for taking care of us.
Cancer disease can be treated in Madagascar, thanks to the abilities and support of the oncologists, however, I see that antimitotic and financial problem are still an obstacle which not allowed patients to follow the treatment. It’s better to have public and private platform to support cancer’s patients.
51 years old, mother of 3, teacher, lives 25 km from Fianarantsoa.
The mother of one of my students told me about the Pink October, because she heard about it on the radio and she had already been to the Rex. Then I decided to come to the Rex too, as soon as I could, because what I had heard about cancer was frightening.
So, I left my students with one of my colleagues and I came here: I actually arrived yesterday, but there were too many women waiting and I have been told to come back today. I am very happy to be here, I think that with my salary and the expenses for my family I would’ve never been able to pay for the mammogram and the Pap test. I repeat, I am so glad I can have these tests done for free, I feel so lucky.
We, the women of Fianarantsoa, are all very lucky to have this Center. I would like to tell every woman to come to the Rex, even if you are in town for a short time, because prevention is better than cure.
I would like to thank all the staff sincerely for the warm welcome, for sharing their knowledge with us and teaching us how to do a breast self-exam; I am going home with a wonderful “gift” and I can’t wait to share it with my students’ mothers. As a teacher, it is my duty to teach them the terrible consequences of cancer, and to convince them all to come to the Rex.
I would also like to encourage the staff of the Center and most of all the Founder of this project and tell them to keep going, because we need you and I hope that one day all Malagasy women will be able to benefit from your services. Thank you again for your professionalism, you managed to dissipate all our fears and worries, you gave us strength and your presence in Fianarantsoa is a guarantee for our health. To me, health is in the hands of God but that doesn’t mean it should be left entirely to chance.
I think there are still some women who have not heard about this Center, so I invite everyone to keep promoting it and to encourage the women who have already been here to talk about it to their friends.
I will also come back tomorrow for the Zumba lesson.
58 years old, mother of 9, lives 30 km from Fianarantsoa and works as a laundress.
I heard about the Pink October activities from the radio, that’s why I came to the Rex; I arrived in Fianarantsoa yesterday morning for the Pap test and I had a mammogram done today, because I worry about my health. I spent all my savings to come here, between the travel expenses and the meals, but I don’t care about that. I would rather come to the Rex for a screening; I am not scared of it: it’s important to know everything about one’s health. I feel safe here, and I want to come back. I’ve been taught a lot about women’s health, especially the breast self-exam, and when I’ll come home I’ll teach it to my daughters and explain everything to them. All the staff is very kind and the doctors are nice, too.
The most important things to do, in my opinion, are the mammogram and the Pap test: they don’t hurt and they don’t take a long time. Even after this month, I invite all the women in Fianarantsoa to come to the Rex. You have to take care of your health, because we as women have a very important role in our families and we need to take care of ourselves. You shouldn’t be scared.
Finally, I would like to thank those responsible for this project: you really take care of the poor, you give us new life, because if we were ill we would have to spend so much more than we do now. I’m glad I have to come back to the Rex to get the results of my tests. Thank you so much to all the wonderful staff!
53 years old, mother of 5, housewife.
I consider myself a friend of this Center, I’ve been coming here since 2012, the first time I had a Pap test done, and I come back every 3 years. After my first exam, the doctor noticed some issues and prescribed me some medication for a year. In 2015 I had a check-up and I’m completely fine now. In the same year, I was also invited to have a mammogram done and I’ve been taught how to do the breast self-exam. Ever since then I have never stopped doing it and I’ve talked about it with everybody, especially my children.
I am the responsible of my parish, and I encourage everybody, and most of all young women, to come to the Rex to have a Pap test and a mammogram done, I talk about this as often as I can, because it is very important to be aware of our health. It helps us be stronger; it reassures us and helps us to take care of ourselves. “It is better to prevent than to cure”.
I thank God for Madam President and her family, for their devotion and love for the Malagasy people, and for accepting this great mission to save the life of Malagasy women. She truly gave all of herself to us.
This Center is a real treasure for me and for all those who live in Fianarantsoa, it’s part of the Patrimony of our country and of the Haute Matsihatra region.
I would like to thank the Akbaraly Foundation and all the staff of the ONG La Vita Per Te for their strength, dedication and professionalism, all of you are special and you really are our “saviors”. Keep going!
I would also like to say this to all the young people and especially teenagers that have their first sexual experiences: take care of your health and your future, come to the Rex for a mammogram and a Pap test, don’t be lazy, because you are the future of your country. Don’t forget that if you don’t know your partner’s past, their history, you shouldn’t let love and sweet words fool you.
I would like to invite all women to come for a mammogram, we are very lucky to have this Center here in Fianarantsoa. We need to fight our fears and think about the future of our families, of our country. I can assure you that now I am not worried anymore about my health, I even became a blood donor for the Fianarantsoa hospital, because I like the idea of being able to save a life.
42 years old, mother of 3, teacher in a public secondary school in the province of Fianarantsoa, lives 30 km from Fianarantsoa.
It’s the second time that I come here, the first time I came to have a Pap test done, but today I want to celebrate the “Pink October” month, like so many other women worldwide, and I want to have a mammogram. It actually is just the right time for it, because 5 days ago I felt pain in my left breast and I am worried for my health. I have been here for two days now, but yesterday I arrived too late and I had to come back this morning. But getting this exam done is essential to me, so I’m waiting for my turn.
I am really happy because I didn’t know it was free, it’s unheard of! All the hospital services usually cost money; in any other hospital in Fianarantsoa I would have to pay at least 150.000 Ariary to be cured, and that does not include the travel expenses; plus the staff are not at all understanding – if you have no money, you don’t get cured.
On the other hand, I’m extremely satisfied with the services offered by the Rex, and I would like to sincerely thank those who created this project, all the staff, from the Directors to the cleaning ladies, because everything is so clean and organized. Sometimes it may be a bit scary to come here, but I think that, ever since the Rex was opened, many women in Fianarantsoa managed to escape death and there are a lot less orphaned children. Let’s not forget that taking care of a cancer patient is not easy, not only does the patient suffer but their entire family life is affected, sometimes people are even forced to sell everything they own, their homes, land, crops, cattle…The medicines are extremely expensive.
But in conclusion, avoiding all this is easy: we need to take care of ourselves, that’s the solution, that’s why I talk about the Rex any time I can. Come here, talk to your friends, tell them that cancer is dangerous but avoidable and curable if it is discovered in time. I also like participating to the awareness campaigns, during one of these I was taught the breast self-exam and I truly hope that more people are going to become aware of the importance of getting regular mammograms and Pap tests.
Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart!
51 years old, mother of 3, cashier in a public hospital in Fianarantsoa.
As I live in Fianarantsoa, I know this Center, but it’s the first time I come here. I’ve heard about this event on the radio, I just came out of my office, I still haven’t gone home, but I immediately came here for a mammogram.
My sister passed away from cancer at the age of 42. I saw her pain and how much her family suffered, there was nothing that could’ve been done, it was too late…if only we knew this terrible disease could be cured, maybe my sister…
The reason why I came is because I want to be more aware of my health, I tried to fight my fear and thank God I managed to come here, this is very important for me.
This Center make us feel safe, and we truly need you. In the name of all the women in Fianarantsoa, I thank you with a capital T, keep going!
I want to encourage all the women, both married and single, to come to the Rex and learn more about their health, to have a mammogram and a Pap test: don’t be scared, it’s not painful and there are no side effects, you can even bring your children for a consultation, everything you need is here.
Cancer doesn’t choose: in spite of our social class, ALL of us can be affected by it if we don’t take care of our health.
"Enfants du Soleil" an association that works with abandoned women and their children.
We are the staff of the “Enfants du Soleil à Fianarantsoa” association. We came here especially to get a mammogram and a Pap test done during this special month. We have been made aware of this problem through one of the awareness campaigns promoted by the Rex and, after learning more about cancer and its consequences on the life and health of a woman and her family, as well as learning about “prevention” and “screenings”, we decided together to come here and do this. We are a lot more aware of the difficulties that this disease poses to women and we want to know more about our health.
Our message that we want to say to all women is that, no matter your age, you need to overcome the fear of going to a doctor’s and talk to a specialist. Come to the Rex, this center is for everyone, all the staff is nice and welcoming, the doors are open…it’s a home for all of us.
We also want to say that all women need to come here for a screening for breast and uterine cancer.
We are lucky to live nearby, but many women come from far away because they trust the staff and the quality of their care. Now we want to help them as much as we can, volunteering and working for the awareness campaigns, we want to get everybody involved and convince everybody that “prevention is better than cure”.
Thank you to the Founder of this project and to all the team, to the Akbaraly Foundation and to the ONG La Vita Per Te.
An orphaned little baby of 8 months, cared for in the pediatrics and nutrition departments of the Rex ever since he was 3, when he weighed only 1.5 kg.
He was hospitalized and had to be monitored carefully, because he was extremely small and malnourished. He managed to grow stronger and bigger and now he lives with his grandma. Every Friday they come to the Rex to obtain food and nutritional supplements for free.
“I would like to thank the Founder of this project from the bottom of my heart, as well as the Directors, the staff and especially the pediatricians and the nutritionist, who became little Kevin’s friends”, says the grandma. “They took great care of us, and I want to thank them for their help and for the love they showed Kevin, ever since we come here to the Center we have a new reason to live and Kevin can have a normal life, like any other boy.
The Rex is Kevin’s second home, he will grow up here, because you all are part of his family. I’m very happy and satisfied with your work, keep going and long live the Rex! I really don’t know how to thank you, I have nothing to give you in payment, but I keep praying for you because you save lives!”.
Testimonial from Sister Marie Justine and Sister Florine, of the Congregation of Capuchin Nuns of the Immaculate Lady of Lourdes in Fianarantsoa. They both finished a 3 week internship at the Rex.
Sister Mary Justine
I had the chance to participate in this short but intense internship, which really enriched my knowledge and experience when it comes to screening for breast and uterine cancer. I truly convinced myself of the existence of this disease and discovered a few cases of it. Now, not only am I ready to participate to the awareness campaigns, but also to invite all the women I know to come to the Rex for a consultation. The Rex is the first prevention center in the Haute Matsihatra region and the one that, in my opinion, is closest to the people.
I want to thank the ONG La Vita Per Te and the Akbaraly Foundation, as well as all the staff, for their kindness and understanding.
The internship at the Rex was a great discovery; it was short but extremely enriching for me professionally. It was also the first time I heard about Pap tests and breast self-exams.
With the Pap test, I could learn more about the different kinds of viruses that can affect the uterus and learn to interpret the tests’ results in order to figure out whether a women is ill or not. It was a very important lesson on the importance of good lifestyle choices and adequate personal hygiene.
The Rex also has a pathology lab, the only one of its kind in Fianarantsoa, thanks to which I learned all the different steps to carry out the analyses.
In short, an extremely educational experience that shaped me as a professional, now I can talk freely about this topic to women and teach them to take care of their health. I want to invite them all to come to the Rex for a consultation, to prevent uterine and breast cancer.
Thank you all for the great times we had together, we will hold them in our hearts forever. Thank you all, in the name of our entire Congregation.