Guest Editor | Do not fear cancer
The battle Jamaican women and men face with the diagnosis of cancer is similar to the battle others face in other countries. The first reaction to a diagnosis of cancer is usually disbelief, deep denial, and fear.
Many women have a heightened fear of breast cancer because of its frightening statistics. It is the most common cancer in Jamaican women, and one in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. But today, more women are alive after a breast cancer diagnosis because of increased public education, access to screening services, a heightened awareness of the disease, more targeted treatments, and research.
Out of every 100 women diagnosed with breast cancer, one man will receive a diagnosis of breast cancer.
Following a diagnosis of breast cancer, women, in particular, have to overcome the fear of death, disfigurement, dependency, and losing a career, a husband, or a boyfriend.
Education and awareness play a major role in surviving cancer. There are several myths around breast cancer causing delayed diagnoses, difficulties in treatment, and possibly, death. Jamaicans must understand that:
- Breast cancer is not contagious
- Small-breasted women, like men, can develop cancer
- Using underarm deodorant does not cause cancer
- Obeah cannot cause or cure cancer
- Lifting heavy weights and being stung on the breast by insects will not cause breast cancer.
Learn this: More patients are alive today after surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Do not blame yourself for developing cancer, and do not blame others, including your doctors for giving you cancer. Do not look at yourself as a victim, but fight to become a victor. Build yourself around a cancer diagnosis. To survive cancer you must educate yourself about cancer to gain power and strength to fight it. Use knowledge to work justly for your good and the good of others. You will realise that cancer is not the worst thing that can happen to you and that more women and men are still dying from heart disease and its related issues than from breast cancer.
Positive dietary changes, exercise, good attitudes, and better lifestyle changes together with meeting and learning from others who have triumphed over the disease are important fighting tools. Good support systems, including family, friends, and making better choices are half the battle won. Avoid negative people.
Problems usually signify the need to make personal changes and should teach us how to lift ourselves to new heights.
DO NOT FEAR CANCER! An early diagnosis can save your life. Thereafter, you may live a normal life and form a new career. After breast cancer, many relationships and marriages grow stronger. Women have married and have had children.