A scary disease to so many, the word cancer alone frightens so many without knowledge of it. Fear of the unknown can be damaging and deathly. It is said we all have cancer cells in our bodies but it is only when some of those cells become abnormal that we develop a certain type of cancer. There are a lot of types of cancer, some of the most known being skin, pancreatic, lung, Leukemia and colon but the more popular being the cervical, prostate and breast cancer. A lot of people die from the disease unnecessarily so due to lack of knowledge and stigma. As the month was dedicated mainly to breast cancer, awareness is key as scary as cancer can be.
Breast cancer is not an exclusive women disease as it affects men as well. Men have breast tissue even though they do not have breasts like women. Our breasts are everything to us and very precious we mostly even give them names. Mammogram (breast cancer screening) is often advised from the age of 40 on a yearly basis because with no symptoms it can be discovered via it. It is most treatable before it advances and early detection can help save lives, one life lost one life too many. The family history of breast cancer often plays a big role in a risk of getting it but any woman can get it. There are easy ways to finding breast cancer early and I believe most women love looking at their bodies more especially after taking a bath or shower.
Looking in the mirror while naked after that nice bath makes it easy perform a physical regular examination which is very important and can be helpful, it pays to know and understand your body. Knowing your body helps in detecting any physical changes so know the look and feel of your breast. Lumps don’t necessarily mean cancer as most of us have lumps all the time, if you are not sure of those lumps please ask a professional.
Look out for signs like :
- Any dimpling
- Change in color of the nipples or redness
- If any nipple fluid coming out when it is pressed
- Nipple turning inward or pain that doesn’t go away
- When lifting your hands both breasts should go up, if one doesn’t then it means something is pulling it down.
A lot can be done to save a life but the above mentioned are some of the warning signs that shouldn’t be ignored, our bodies are forever changing and unfortunately, some changes can be signs of cancer. Performing that physical exam is not enough; there are other critical must-do exams that need to be done, which are
*Clinical breast exam – Done by a healthcare professional or doctor, helps if anything is missed during self-exam
*Self-breast exam – Done by you once every month several days after your periods end
*Mammogram – X-ray that examines the breast for any suspicious areas on a yearly basis
There are two ways that are always taught to us on how to do self-examination. Firstly our favorite position of standing in front of our mirror or lying down. It can also be done while taking a shower and some say it is easier that way because everything feels smooth so any abnormality can be easily detected.
Whichever works best for you for as long it is done and done correctly. A healthy lifestyle helps not only with cancer but with so many diseases as well. Maintain a good health by limiting alcohol intake; smoking, minimal exercise makes a difference, bravery of doing tests and eating a well-balanced diet. All this might not mean the absence of the disease but it certainly means a reduction of risk. AWARENESS IS KEY. Let us empower ourselves with so much knowledge that when the challenge comes our way it finds us well prepared. When we are prepared, we know how to act and act fast. It can never be an easy journey but it will be easier having an understanding of it. Breast cancer awareness month is a good platform for those who are shy to go ask and listen and be amongst thousands of survivors who made it and talking about it like they were never affected.
Breast cancer should not mean the end of life and how we see it makes or breaks us through its journey. One thing I picked from all survivors I met is how they see it after being diagnosed. And how they see it is actually what gave them strength to live with it and now calling themselves survivors and not victims. It can love other people so much that it keeps coming back but the fight continues with the same positive mindset. The power of the mind is the most powerful weapon that we use to make a success of our lives or be toxic to our very own lives.
Thank you to all the South African Women who take an initiative in empowering other women in more ways than one, mentioning not all but few – our former Joburg city First Lady Ms Philisiwe Tau and Ms Tintswalo -SACONO, Brave Leukemia survivor Mmathapelo Molefe and not forgetting our Brave Breast cancer survivors Ms Ntokozo Mpume Dludla, Ms Rebecca Musi and our mother Ms Lillian Dube. Your bravery is very courageous and contagious. Thank you and may we continue to take a stand and fight.