October marks Breast Cancer Awareness month, a time to really consider the impact of this frightening illness and ensure that women stay informed about their own health with frequent checkups. Breast Cancer has affected millions of women globally, and according to statistics, 1 in every 29 women in South Africa.
A woman is most vulnerable when diagnosed with breast cancer. There are so many encouraging stories about survivors and how they made it through, but in that moment you don’t think about that. Your mind goes to worse case, it feels like your world has just been crushed. What now?
The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) is there to assist cancer patients, help them through the process and provide a support structure via cancer survivors to encourage the patients. Read the amazing stories of Teresa Wilson who survived breast cancer and Petra Nortjes’ story of hope.
Symptoms to look out for
The most common symptom of Breast Cancer can be a lump in the breast that is often irregular in shape with some being rather painful and others completely painless. While most lumps on the breast can be harmless, CANSA encourages women to check for the following noticeable symptoms:
* Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
* Skin irritation or dimpling
* Breast or nipple pain
* Nipple retraction (turning inward)
* Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
* Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
Breast cancer can spread to the underarm and collar bone, as well as the lymph nodes which often swell.
There are many stages of Breast Cancer, further proving that if you have regular checkups, you will be able to detect the disease at an early stage and begin treatment. Treatment methods will depend on the individual and doctor and will differ for each patient. Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, the disease can be treated by surgery, mastectomy or radiation therapy. Other methods of treatments can involve chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy.
How to reduce the risk of having cancer
All women need to know their breasts and self-examine their breast in order to find any abnormalities. Annual mammograms and clinical examines can also reduce the risk of breast cancer and assist in early detection. By ensuring that you have regular checkups, you will be able to stay well informed about your own health and we encourage you to educate others on this importance. Your lifestyle can also be adjusted to lower the risk of cancer. CANSA recommends the following:
* Eat at least 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day
* Add a lot of fibre to your diet
* Cut down on red meat. Rather eat fish, beans, lentils, etc.
* Avoid processed foods and salt.
* Water is best! Cut out the sugary drinks and sodas.
* Daily exercising is recommended for a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
* No alcohol and no smoking.
Just by changing your lifestyle you can reduce the risk of cancer and by following the above recommendation you can have a fuller life.
Breast Cancer is an illness that many people have become too familiar with, whether they have experienced the illness themselves or watched it affect their loved ones. This common illness has claimed many precious lives, but have seen many victorious survivors. MediFin salutes all cancer patients and the amazing strength they display on a daily basis.
Visit the CANSA website for more information on the types of cancer, the symptoms, treatments and how they can assist you – http://www.cansa.org.za/
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