self breast exam

I remember hearing about Aunt Monica’s passing in 2005. I was about 10. She had died from breast cancer. I was oblivious of the disease and didn’t hear of it again till years later when a classmate’s mum passed away. I still couldn’t get a grasp of it but I knew it wasn’t something good. I got a scare when at 15, I discovered a lump in my breast. You wouldn’t blame for thinking I had cancer. I didn’t know any better. Years later, I am a healthcare worker and I am more informed about this disease.

Firstly, it is the most frequently diagnosed life-threatening cancer in women and the leading cause of cancer death among women. Approximately 182,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually in the United States. In 2008, it accounted for 458,503 deaths worldwide.  Now that is a whole lot. A study done in 2012 showed that European women with breast cancer usually presented at an early stage especially with the advent of screening while their African counterparts generally presented late for treatment resulting in lower survival rates.  What could really be the problem in Africa? Little information out there or lacking know-how on self-examination? I seriously doubt the former.

Breast cancer has been widely talked about and has gained awareness globally. Nevertheless, there are still myths and misconceptions out there about the disease and it is our duty to keep educating everyone around us on this condition till they truly understand its severity. Not to worry, it isn’t a death sentence. There are a lot of breast cancer survivors which is why it is imperative to carry out breast examinations often and report any changes to your doctor as early detection makes good prognosis.

One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that you are not at risk of getting it if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer and it happens to only older women. This isn’t entirely true. Most breast cancer patients had no family history of it and younger women can be affected. Kamsi was 28 years old when she got diagnosed of stage 2 breast cancer. It came as a huge shock because as far back as teenage years she had always been one to not joke with proper diet and exercise. Unfortunately these lifestyle behaviors can help reduce the risk but can’t eliminate it. Good news is she conquered it.

Lastly not all lumps are cancerous. So do not fret just yet if you discover one. But at the same time do not be nonchalant about it. Breast cancer is lethal and should be treated with utmost importance. Again, SELF-EXAMINATION IS KEY.

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