Have you ever observed a lump in the breast or are you suffering from obesity for long? If you have any of these symptoms, do not ignore, contact a doctor.
Have you ever observed a lump in the breast or are you suffering from obesity for long? If you have any of these symptoms, do not ignore, contact a doctor. For, you could be in danger of getting breast cancer - one of the deadliest diseases these days. But worry not as these fighters show you the way:
Breast cancer is the single largest cancer among women in Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chandigarh and No.2 in Chennai. These are figures from the Indian Council of Medical Research National Cancer Registry.
Many practitioners say that these are under reported and the rate is far higher, maybe even to the tune of 1 in 8-10 women in Delhi and NCR will develop breast cancer. Any serious oncology institute examines at least 20-25 breast cancers cases in a month.
Cityplus talks to some of the survivors of breast cancer and shares their experiences with readers.
Savita is presently pursuing M. Phil and is 30 years old. "While I was pursuing my graduation, second year, I got to know about the cancer that's growing inside me. I had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation as my cancer stage was 3B, which was a later stage. I was shocked and crying the whole day. Although I was undergoing regular check ups earlier, my doctor never told me that I have some risk of breast cancer," she explains.
"After getting to know about cancer, you have to be sure about the way you react and the confidence level should always be maintained. There are various treatments in breast cancer that are very painful and especially at a later stage. Then I thought I have the cancer which is at least curable. The cost of the treatment goes up to Rs 6-8 lakh. But I am thankful that I fought back and survived. I would really like to thank my family and especially my husband who supported me all through. Support of near and dear ones gives encouragement to overcome the trauma."
Breast cancer is not easily identifiable. You don't even know when it strikes. Everything was normal for 51-year-old Chitra Gopalan till she noticed some changes.
"There was a slight discoloration in my breast. It became hard and was really painful. I avoided it very conveniently because I never thought it would be that serious. My daughter took the initiative of taking me to the doctor. It was an entire process of undergoing treatment and overcoming the pain. The process is very painful. Chemotherapy and radiation process was quite painful and eating habits change. Proteins intake became must for immunity. I was a vegetarian but had to have eggs. I became very weak and had jaundice and had to have jaggery, juices, etc. For three months, I was on complete bed rest. But I am happy that I fought and came back."
Nath is 50 years old and has been fighting cancer for the last 12 years.
"At the age of 38, I noticed a big lump in my breast which was diagnosed as cancer. It didn't pain at all but the very thought of cancer was scary. But I know I had to fight and come back as I had to live for my kids. I had to undergo six chemos in a year and various other check ups and treatments. Food must not be avoided, chemo directly affects the liver and therefore oily food must be avoided. The doctor can always tell you the treatment and give you the medicines but, the support groups initiate the process and tell you how to overcome it - how to lead a better life and how to cope up with the world, etc. My family supported me and one thing I want to say is that when your near and dear ones are there for you, you can never be let down."
Usha is now 60 years old and at the age of 58, she got to know about her cancer.
"When I got to know about it, I didn't feel that it would be so serious. There are some medicines that you have to take and things get cool. The stage of cancer obviously makes a whole lot of difference. I had undergone 2-3 surgeries and then it was fine. I am thankful, that I recovered. My family and my doctor, Dr Rajiv really supported me and they are the ones who gave me the encouragement to move on in life.
Awareness about cancer is very low in India. Screening for cancer leads to diagnosis at an early stage, resulting in better treatment results. But even with considerable threat of cancer in females, only 3 per cent women in India come for regular screening. Awareness about the risk factors is also important.
Here are some tips:
- Know your family history and risk factors.
- Be an informed patient. Have an open dialogue with your health care professional.
- Perform self-exams monthly.
- In your 20s and 30s, have a clinical breast exam every three years.
- Beginning at age 40, have an annual clinical breast exam and mammogram.
- If you are at high risk, talk to your health care professional about beginning to have mammograms at a younger age.
- Be physically active and exercise regularly. Brisk walk daily will help reduce your risk.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Restrict sources of red meat and other animal fats because they may contain hormones, other growth factors, antibiotics and pesticides.
- Do not smoke.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.
- Reduce your stress to strengthen your immune system.
- Consider having children sooner rather than later in life, and breastfeed your babies.
- Join armyofwomen.org and be part of groundbreaking research for breast cancer
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