Cancer. A disease caused when abnormal cells divide uncontrollably, spread to organs and destroy surrounding tissues, one of the most dreaded diseases of today. A disease that does not discriminate based on age, gender, religion, or caste. There is an ever growing advancement in the fields of research and treatment, as well as raising awareness and support. But is it enough?
The type of cancer that is diagnosed most in women is Breast Cancer, right between skin, lung and uterine cancers. Most types of breast cancer start in the ducts or lobules as unregulated proliferations of cells that develop into lumps and then spread outside the breast through blood vessels and lymph vessels. Though it is treatable, if left unchecked, breast cancer can be life-threatening and spread to other parts of the body.
Breast Cancer is not a preventative disease, but it is curable in the early stages.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump. 90% to 95% of patients discover lumps in their breasts anywhere from the center portion or the sides, sometimes even the armpits.
Other symptoms include discharge from the nipple, discoloration and hardening of skin on or around the breasts.
If you are a woman above the age of 40, and discover any of the mentioned symptoms, it is recommended to get checked by a professional.
These symptoms may sometimes occur in girls of a young age, however, these lumps are mostly benign, which eventually progress to become cancerous by the time they turn 35 – 40 years.
How you can reduce the risk of Breast Cancer
If there is a history of breast cancer in your family, you can reduce the risk for yourself by following a certain lifestyle based on your diet, exercise and overall upkeep of your health.
Some of these things are:
- Reducing the consumption of alcohol and tobacco
- Habituating to a well balanced and healthy diet and a reduction of junk and fatty foods.
- Exercising regularly, be it walking a few miles a day or extensive workouts.
Women above the age of 35 – 40, with a history of breast cancer, may be prescribed to yearly mammograms by a clinician. Women below that age can self-examine and keep tabs on their breasts, contacting a doctor immediately if they come across any symptoms of Breast Cancer.
Breast Cancer Awareness
Breast Cancer Awareness Month, held in October, is an annual international health campaign aimed at raising global awareness and celebrating the remarkable progress made. It is called ‘Pink October’ as people all around the world adorn the color pink in support. A pink ribbon is displayed to promote the campaign and the importance of screening of early diagnosis.
There are multiple international organizations that have taken up the mantle of educating people, supporting treatment and research, some of them being the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Living Beyond Breast Cancer, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Recognition and celebration of this month takes on many forms, from our workplaces to our private lives. Some of the various ways you can do so are listed below:
- Donate to research initiatives. Help in the much neglected metastatic breast cancer research and treatment.
- Educate your workforce. Employees need to be educated on symptoms, effects, prevention so as to create a supportive environment for cancer patients working with them.
- Conduct screenings. As a responsible and concerned employer, it can help greatly to get your employees screened and diagnosed in the early stages if they could have breast cancer.
- Host ‘Pink Events’. As a society, it can do wonders if members of the community are introduced to the dangers of late diagnosis and how to prevent it, as people reach out to their community facilities first.
- Commitments to therapy clinics. Make it a part of your routines to visit chemotherapy clinics, drive patients to chemo, send cards and flowers, and make donations.
- Free mammograms. Free diagnosis centers should be set up and word should be spread as many women do not have the knowledge or resources to get checked, even if they notice changes occurring in their bodies.
- Work with representatives of the state. For better and wide scaled awareness and support, it is important that the state helps, be it education, bills, initiatives, or drive funds.
- Appreciate breast cancer patients. Recognise their fight and struggles against their own body cells devouring them. Let them know they are not alone.
Last but not least, we must remember that breast cancer, or any other type of cancer, greatly affects all other aspects of life. Remember to be kind, warm and supportive to the people battling it. The least bit of help you can give them is mental and emotional understanding. Educate yourselves and everyone around you as it truly is one for all and all for one.