IN HONOR OF BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH –
“I think after overcoming breast cancer, you sort of become fearless and somehow going up to your boss to talk about a possible promotion doesn’t seem like such a daunting task anymore.” – Hoda Kotb, American television news anchor
Breast cancer affects all of us, the woman and rarely the man in a few cases. We all fear that awful word cancer. Any type of cancer is terrible. You I’ll not realize how it feels until it happens to someone close to you or through a personal experience. The emotions is hard to grasp. It is really such a bad thing. And the options are only two; to give up or fight it till you win.
A marathon mom, Rebecca Goddard said; “I was freaked out, scared, uncertain, angry, and determined to beat this.” It’s definitely a battle you did not choose, but this battle requires more than just awareness. It will require you to be a superwoman. There are also many risk reduction strategies that can lower the risk of developing breast cancer.
Knowing your individual risk can help minimize the likelihood of developing the disease. And to be diagnosed of the disease, doesn’t in any way make you less of a woman or unfortunate. The love and support from friends, family and loved ones will give you the assurance of hope, strength and all it takes to battle the disease. Recovery is a process. It takes time, it takes patience, it takes everything you’ve got.
A few ways to be affectionate and be a friend to someone at the end battling cancer;
Be available; Let them enjoy your presence – The shallow solace one gets from the phrase out of sight but not of the mind, cannot measure up the comfort and love one feels with the presence of a loved one when battling a disease such as breast cancer. Don’t just send words, go with your presence.
a. Let them feel loved; physical contact – Some people cannot just bear the sight
of a sick friend or loved one. Other’s would not even go near them. I abhor the smell of hospitals and drugs. They make me sick in the stomach; but I can’t hate to hold a loved one who’s unwell to show a little love. Touch them, give them a kiss, hug them; get physical with them.
b. Action speaks louder than words – Plenty words of encouragement and
numerous motivational quotes you share with them can give a victim a little grin but, let your actions depict more weight also. Don’t just preach the good word, be the good word in action.
The world is tired of motivational speakers, it’s time for motivational doers.
c. Don’t allege everything is fine.
In a moment where loved ones ‘world’ seems out of place; in such moments, what they need is reality and not heaven (exaggerated perfection). People are very much aware things are not okay and what they need to hear is the truth. A simple truth that says; things are not okay but they can be better. Optimism without truth is no positive vibe, it’s an absolute deception. Don’t pretend everything is perfect and okay.
d. Give them a sense of hope – I call it ‘hope-full’.
Everybody needs some moments of hope-full once in a while. Now, there’s a little thin line between giving them hope and being hopeful yourself.
I never knew what bravery was until I saw it in my friend.
Till today, it baffles me how it all happened; in only six months after her delivery. Scary movies are best seen on screen, and it should always remain so. That night, changed my perception of pain and suffering. I thought of myself as a strong woman who will defile all odds in her pursuit for a better life; but upon seeing my dear friend, one I called a sister, battled real pain, she was indeed the bravest I have ever seen. Her agony, her screams, the wide skulled gaze, even till today reminds me of how bravely she fought. I cannot describe the state of her breast and her actual condition. I literally was a live cast in a scary movie; an ugly reality life played on me.
She would faintly scream my name in pain; “Harmony” and ask me why, and what she did wrong. She would asked agonizing and screaming – “What was my crime – Harmony my heart, Harmony Harmony”. And the next moment, she could barely recognize me. My heart broke into a million pieces. I cried, sat alone on a broken stair outside the room where she laid consumed by pain and words cannot describe it. Her mom walked to me and said; “hmm that is the state of your sister. She can’t eat, sleep, sit up to even have a look at the baby girl she had. It all suddenly happened, she told me.
Later, her mom wanted to clean her but I offered to. I wiped her in heavy tears. Fed her, which she could not swallow and said she could not eat again. I tried to act brave but, she as lifeless as she was, was even more brave.
I walked a little distance back home that evening reflecting on how life can be so unpredictable; you’re strong and healthy in a minute and the next, you’re fighting for your life. Getting home, I walked straight to my mom stammering to a few words of what I had encountered. And this was what I could say; “I saw death stared deep into my eyes today” and went straight to lay down. I had a sleepless night.
The next day, my friend gave up the battle and I have not been able to forget that night. It’s been seven months and counting and she was loved, forever.
Many women have encountered worst fear and many still surviving the ugly truth.
Breast cancer has become the leading cause of death in women between the ages of forty and fifty. In some cases, in their early thirties as my friend. To survive it and the aftermath, is a story of bravery only they can best express. It is a joy to see other women battle this disease for a chance to experience live in a different way over again. So many beautiful and courageous women survivors across the globe; they are here today alive and hope-full, they would rather smile than cry.
Here Are Some Moving Survivors Quotes and Stories;
“Cancer changes us, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s up to us to decide what that change will mean in our lives, and who we will become as a result.” – Britta Aragon, safe cosmetic expert, author and entrepreneur.
“Stronger than cancer! You are always stronger than you think you are. I faced two battles with advanced cancer and I truly believe that with each obstacle, I became stronger. This is not an easy battle, but if you take a stand and believe in yourself, you are much stronger than cancer. That inner strength will get you through it.” – Ann, Cancer survivor and founder of Lymphoma club.
“I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.” – Angelina Jolie, (American actress, filmmaker and humanitarian) on getting a double mastectomy.
I reached out to some survivors who were bold to share their survival stories to help create more awareness. Names of these survivors are withheld on accounts of anonymity and stories briefly summarized for publication purposes.
The stories I heard about conquering fear after surviving cancer is true. I live my life with less expectations and without fear now. I discovered I had breast cancer at quite a late hour. But I was so determined to live, especially for my kids who are in their late tens. The chemo took me right into another world. The pain, sleepless nights and weakness changed my life and in a brighter picture, saved it. Today, I have lost both breast but, I am still the woman I used to be and even better. The chances of survival depends on your choice of decision to live.
I didn’t even know I had breast cancer. I was unwell and decided to go for a checkup and that was how I was diagnosed with the disease. The first question I asked was; oh why me? It took me time to come to terms with it before heading for the treatment. I went through counseling and some church prayers. It wasn’t easy dealing with the treatment. The sudden physical changes due to the chemo and other drugs, made me stayed home 24/7. I lost my identity. Personally, I had much support from my husband and pastor. Gradually, I came to terms with losing one of my breast and the fight to survive. I lived a healthy lifestyle, I never in my world, thought I would be a victim and today a survivor. Acceptance and early treatment saved my life and the other breast. I am a survivor!
I first heard of the disease during an awareness and free screening campaign. So I took part and it was detected I had a lump in my left breast. I didn’t believe it so I went for a second opinion at Korle Bu teaching hospital and it was confirmed. It was in the early stage so I was advised to undergo a surgery to remove the lump which I did. Since then, I have had some lifestyle changes to avoid a second battle and remission. I got pregnant after the treatment and now I have a baby boy. The experience from diagnosis, counseling, surgery and to chemotherapy, have been a lesson and a battle field. Early detection save lives and I encourage every woman at risk to get screened.
How do we win against breast cancer ?
So we know the disease can be treated and prevented from spreading as well as save lives and both breasts. As part of our focus dedicating the month of October to promoting the awareness of breast cancer, we ask every stakeholder to help promote the awareness and screening in their various capacity.