October is the Pink Ribbon month! It is simply a month where there is a lot of focus on increasing breast cancer awareness. You may be wondering, ‘But there is so much information out there already, every woman should be sufficiently equipped to nip breast cancer at early stages.’ Well, you may be right that there is so much information out there but then the number of women who still have to battle breast cancer and the number of women who go through it and do not survive is enough reason to not stop
talking about it.
You would be surprised to know that there are still a number of women out there who still utilize primitive methods to reduce lumps and even to fight full blown breast cancer. Some 2 years back, I once came across a woman who did nothing about the lumps on her breast, apart from apply menthols until the lumps spread and became full blown breast cancer. Still, at that stage she saw some traditional herbalists who gave her concoctions and topical creams that he claimed would fight the cancer and heal up affected areas.
She kept this solely to herself whilst still undergoing these primitive treatments until the cancer became out of hand and started causing her serious pain. It was then she opened up to a few of her close friends who advised her to go to the hospital. At that point, the cancer had spread to other organs of her body and medically, there was little that could be done to help her. Her chances of surviving was 0-1%. It was that bad. She was a single mother who later passed on, leaving a young son behind.
This story is a very heart breaking one because she was educated and was even a teacher in a public primary school. Before she passed on, she was later asked why she did not open up when she realized it at the early stages, one of her main reason was fear, she also did not want one of her breasts to be cut off and thought since she couldn’t afford regular medical treatment, that the herbal method would be effective in a short period. But she never realized breast cancer doesn’t need a short time. It needs to be nipped in the bud immediately.
On the other hand, there are people who go through the right treatment to fight cancer but still have to fight for survival due to the circumstances they find themselves in that is not their fault. One of such women is Jamil Rivers who decided to carry on with her job as a CFO, and caring for her children whilst fighting metastatic breast cancer. It is easy to talk about strength but what happens when life beats us down beyond any effort we can muster? She could have just decided to let her husband take full financial responsibility of the family, caring for the children and an unplanned huge health expenses. But she decided to keep her job, live her normal life and fight breast cancer.
That’s an amazing, inspiring story of strength, courage and grit. So, are we saying all women who have been hit by breast cancer should do exactly what Jamil did? Of course not. In essence, we are saying it is not too much to keep talking about breast cancer until people can see it as a sickness like malaria that they do not need to hide. And more importantly, to create resources, expand the network for women fighting cancer to always find support, help, expert guidance for a phase of life that comes with so much pain and exertion.