Ignore Stigma, Seek Early Treatment - Survivor Advises Breast Cancer Patients

A 56-YEAR-OLD breast cancer survivor, Madam Precious Mensah (not her real name), has encouraged women with breast cancer to ignore the stigma associated with the disease and seek early treatment.

Sharing her story at a breast cancer awareness programme in Accra last Friday, Madam Mensah, who was cured of breast cancer 12 years ago, said early detection of the disease and proper treatment helped victims to survive the disease, pointing out that even though she sought treatment when she was at stage four of the disease, which is the worst stage, she survived through the various treatments.

According to Madam Mensah, “During one of my normal self-breast examination exercises, I detected that I had a lump in my breast. A friend took me to a herbal centre where they confirmed that I had breast cancer.”

She added, “After three years of treatment at the centre, it was detected again by medical specialists at an outreach programme that I had breast cancer even though the herbal hospital claimed I was doing welI. I wasn’t feeling any pain either so I thought I was fine.

She further mentioned that the specialists who diagnosed her the second time decided to start treatment immediately and she had to sell her properties and other belongings to go through the process.

“My husband left me, while my children also abandoned me,” she stated, pointing out that: “I went through the various stages of treatment, including chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy, and I had one of my breasts removed,” she recalled.

Early treatment

The talk was organised by Phenomenal Women Social Club, a women advocate group made up of women entrepreneurs and professionals.

The programme was also to commemorate the World Breast Cancer Awareness Month which is observed annually in October.

Delivering a talk on breast cancer, a medical practitioner at the C&J Medicare Hospital, Dr Solomon Brookman, said every female from the age of 20 should examine her breast every month after her menstrual period.

He advised that if any abnormalities or changes such as a lump, redness of skin at the breast area, change in the shape and size, blood or any other substance coming from the nipples were detected, one should seek medical help, pointing out that, “Any lump that is about five centimeters can be removed.”

He further urged men to support their partners who had breast cancer to enable them to go through the treatment and also check their breasts.

Although the disease mostly affected women, Dr Brookman said about one per cent of breast cancer cases affected men.

The signs

A Chief Radiographer at the C&J Medicare Hospital, Madam Theresa Akoto-Bamford, added that breast cancer mostly did not come with any pain, but once a woman or man detected any abnormality in the breast area, the person should report to the hospital immediately.

For that reason, she said it was also important for women, especially those above 35 years, to check their breasts using the ultrasound and mammograph to detect cancers.

Although the cause of the disease was not known, she mentioned some risk factors, including being a woman, having early menses and late menopause.
She further advised women to eat well, especially fruits and vegetables, to keep them healthy.