October Recap – Of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

My procrastination is always screaming “Ugandan government weyayu” but you also know how slow thises government can get.

That is far from the point, the good news is that the jet that carries all my laziness finally landed us in November. I am excited to be writing this blog post with this much ease because Writer’s block has been playing a card on me. You know those days when you know what to write but your hand stares at blank paper for ages?… Yes. I have been through a couple of those.

All this said happy new month. How was the October ride on your side of life.

On my part, October has been mostly about flooding my mind with knowledge on the burden of Breast Cancer in Africa.

You probably saw people flashing smiles in pink outfits, wearing pink accessories or your favourite brands change some of their product colours throughout the month of October and it got you wondering. Well October was breast cancer awareness month and if you follow this blog on instagram, you already know that, if you don’t “what are you wettin for?”

Also if you follow trends on social media you probably saw images of women on 13th October “No bra day” in solidarity with men and women that have had mastectomies and as an overall tool to raise awareness on the burden of breast cancer.

When I think about the colour pink I think about being Gucci and cheek but the reality of breast cancer is far from that. Because most people in Africa are diagnosed with breast cancer in it’s late stages the overall prognosis is bad. In fact being diagnosed with cancer according to most is an automatic death sentence.

The other day someone told me she has never screened for breast cancer because once you start constantly screening for diseases, the universe brings them to you. Another told me cancer is a white people thing and the list of assumptions continued.

This kind of thinking is no surprise since breast cancer has traditionally been considered a disease of high-income countries, and programs for early detection have been developed and implemented in these settings. Many people on the continent are not aware of the risk factors and the burden of the disease because of minimal awareness programs.

According to world health organisation, Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer among women, impacting 2.1 million women each year, and also causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women world wide. Studies have also shown a rising incidence of breast cancer in Africa as a whole.

1. Who is at Risk?

A risk factor really is anything that increases your chances of developing a particular disease. Of course not everyone with a risk factor develops the disease but they are more likely to as compared to those without risk factors.

The good news is that there are some risk factors you can control like Alcohol consumption, smoking, stress and anxiety, estrogen levels, oral contraceptive use, weight and the amount of exercise or physical activity you do.

Some risk factors on the other hand are non modifiable. The most significant being gender, women are at higher risk though breast cancer is also found in men, Having a positive family history of breast cancer especially in a first degree relative, breast cellular changes and benign lumps in breast tissue that may become cancerous.

2. How do you reduce the risk?

Reduction of the risk for breast cancer is obviously all about controlling the modifiable risk factors and early detection of the disease. Pregnancy and breast feeding reduces the number of menstrual cycles which naturally reduces your risk.

It is also important for all women (being at high risk) to know the early signs of breast cancer which will help in early detection and diagnosis and give an overall better outcome for the disease.

It’s also important to know how to do a self clinical breast examination every so often.

3. Is being Diagnosed with Breast Cancer a death sentence?

Far from it. Today there are many choices for breast cancer treatments. Though early detection is paramount in kicking breast cancer.

The aim of treatment is to get rid of the cancer and also to prevent relapse. The choice of treatment should cover this and you should discuss with your doctor in depth the risk factors and benefits of each treatment. Treatments range from surgery which can be mastectomy- removing of whole breast or lumpectomy -removal of tumor and tissue surrounding it. Other treatments include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy etc.

Treatment also includes the rehabilitation after breast cancer surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Side effects of therapy include nerve damage, lymph swelling, arm swelling etc. The purpose of rehabilitation is to get you back on your feet so you are able to do normal activities as you did before.

This blog post couldn’t put together all the necessary information about Breast cancer but I hope it triggers you to go back and read in depth. I left some links to studies that have been done in Africa and other parts of the world.

I hope to write a blog post in the future on ways I think breast cancer awareness can be done to benefit the population in Africa.

What did you do to raise breast cancer awareness in October? How was the month on your side of life. Do share with me in the comment section

Bellows of love

©Tales of a Curious mind

2 thoughts on “October Recap – Of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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