October is breast cancer awareness month. We all know it. And some of us do take it seriously. Awareness is happening. But it’s striking more now than ever before. According to a recent report, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and strikes around 465,000 globally every year. And, yes, despite the awareness.
This is a subject after my own heart. I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was 11. I was six when she was first diagnosed and medical science was not what it is today. Add to that, low awareness and the notion that you went to a doctor only if it was absolutely necessary. I remember it all vividly, the chemo sessions, the mastectomy, the two bed-ridden years and how my father went through it all, with two children who understood very little of what was going on.
I have been doing breast cancer awareness stories for a while now, mostly of survivors. These women have been through it all and emerged true survivors. What is most heartening is that along with the chemo and radiotherapy sessions, what helped these women was faith. Faith in oneself and faith in God… And the determination to battle the odds and emerge winners. It’s like socking the cancer in the eye and saying, ‘I will not let you get the better of me! No way!’
I must confess that it is emotionally draining to go out there and do such stories. It is emotional when you hear a woman talk of her three sisters who succumbed to cancer, another one losing a breast or accounts of long drawn-out chemotherapy sessions, the nausea and the falling hair! It is painful to hear a 27-year-old woman talk of being diagnosed at 24. But these are stories that have to be passed on… to make other women aware that breast cancer can strike anyone… women and even men!
So first of all, be aware of what your body is telling you! These are signals that are not hard to decode… Trust your instincts and visit the doctor if you even have the faintest inkling that something is wrong. Read up as much as you can on the subject, start on those self-exams… they take only a few minutes every month.
For those in Oman, the National Association for Cancer Awareness is doing a wonderful job! Take advantage of the clinical breast examinations conducted by a qualified doctor once a month at the NACA premises at Azaiba. Their Mobile Mammography Unit is also at your service, providing free mammograms to both Omanis as well as expatriates.
Spread the word… be aware and help others be aware. It’s all it takes to help you be in the PINK!