Sterling Bank recently took the bold step of joining forces with the Leah Foundation to create awareness on breast and cervical cancer by sponsoring the production of a movie titled Diamonds in the Sky. The movie which premiered at Viva Cinemas in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, is a breast and cervical cancer advocacy movie designed to create awareness about cancer. Produced by a leading actor in the country, Femi Adebayo, for Leah Foundation with the support of Sterling Bank, the movie featured veteran role interpreters like Ayo Mogaji, Kolade Olaiya and others including Bimbo Akintola, Ali Nuhu, Omowunmi Dada, Femi Adebayo, Mogaji Majinyawa, Yvonne Jegede-Fawole, Yemi Shodimu, Prof Ayo Akinwale and Ebun Oloyede. Shot in the beautiful city of Ilorin by the multiple award-winning director, Kunle Afolayan, and written by international award-winning writer, Tunde Babalola, Diamonds in the Sky was produced with a view to really touch the hearts and minds of people in communities across Kwara State. Commending Sterling Bank for sponsoring Diamonds in the Sky, Mrs. Omolewa Ahmed, First Lady of Kwara State and Founder, Leah Foundation said, “We appreciate Sterling Bank for investing in continued breast and cervical cancer awareness and education. Without proper awareness, a lot of women cannot identify possible warning signs of cancer making it impossible for them to take prompt action that can lead to early diagnosis. Our goal is to heighten breast and cervical cancer awareness through this educative movie to increase early diagnosis and screening rates because it increases the chances for successful treatment.” Most people who live with the chronic disease usually wish for their healthy brethren to try and imagine what it must be like to step into their skin and live with the dreaded disease for even a day. Actors do just that when they portray a fictional character for a movie or play. The difference is that they only play the role for months at a time. In doing so, elements of love, joy and disappointment come to play in Diamonds in the Sky as three families struggled with life challenges that threatened the bonds of their friendship. According to data obtained from population-based Cancer Registries, the incidence of breast cancer in Nigeria rose significantly between 1960 and 1969 and more than doubled by 1999. The data also showed that the commonest forms of cancer in Nigeria between 2009 and 2010 were breast and cervical cancers among women and prostate cancer among men. Both registries in the study reported that the most common cases of cancer in Nigeria were breast, cervix and prostate. Possible explanations for the higher proportion of cancers occurring in women include differences in the incidence pattern of cancers that occur commonly in both sexes compared to the age structure of the population. Other reasons include the relative ease of diagnosis and more specific symptomatology of common female cancers compared with those in men (prostate and liver), more frequent contact with the health care system by women due to uptake of maternal/child health care services, greater population awareness of breast and cervical cancers, better health-seeking behavior by women compared to men. Regional business executive, South West of Sterling Bank, Mr. Ademola Adeyemi, explained that cancer is the second leading cause of death globally with a record of 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Worried by this significant number, he said Sterling Bank has outlined a programme of action to ensure that everyone has access to good health care through its HEART initiative. While noting that the key to combating the dreaded disease is early detection, Adeyemi said the bank has aligned its business model to offer financial and non-financial solutions to key areas of the economy. The key areas which will drive investments by the bank are health, education, agriculture, renewable energy and transportation (HEART), he said. Impressed by the level of investment in the Leah Cancer Centre by the Leah Foundation, Adeyemi called on other operators in the private sector and charitable organisations to emulate the Leah Foundation. He observed that although raising awareness for cancer may not cure the disease, the effort can help lots of people in a number of ways such as reducing the stigma about cancer and connecting people to the support and care they need. Raising awareness can also encourage research and fund advancements in the field, reduce exposure to cancer risks and also promote screening and prevention efforts, he said. Noting that Leah Foundation is the first non-profit and charitable health organisation delivering breast and cervical cancer screening services to urban and rural communities in Kwara State, Adeyemi said the foundation “must be emulated and its model adopted to improve the quality of life as well as the life expectancy of millions of Nigerians.” In her comments on Diamonds in the Sky, Dr. Ugonna Ajoku, a medical doctor with Lakeshore Cancer Centre, commended Sterling Bank for sponsoring the movie. Dr. Ajoku noted that the bank didn’t have to undertake the sponsorship but did it nonetheless. She said “cancer is a bully and we must fight back with awareness. We must use all forms of communication to get the message across, to debunk all the myths. Cancer is NOT a DEATH SENTENCE! But early detection is key, therefore, screening is the way.” The LEAH Breast and Cervical Cancer Project is set up to create awareness about cancer, provide access to regular screening, offer psychological and social support services including counseling and ultimately provide treatment to the victims. The Founder, Mrs. Omolewa Ahmed, was inspired to establish the LEAH Foundation based on her experiences with people facing different challenges in their lives. She is strongly convinced that if people can be empowered, their life will be much better. This gave birth to the acronym LEAH, which means LIFE Empowered Anchors Hope. Leah Foundation is working to fight against underdevelopment based on the S.H.E model – Social Welfare, Health and Education. It strongly believes that the world can be a better place if every stakeholder contributes to eradicating the development deficits confronting the world in these thematic areas.