3 years ago, my elder sister, then 41 years old, traveled to Egypt in search of greener pastures. All was well for the first 2 years until she called in distress one night. She told me of how she’d had this boil in her breast for the past 4 years and was managing with herbal preparations while she was in Ghana😭. Which boil last more than 4 weeks ooo 🤦🏾♀️Due to her travel, she could not continue with the herbal drugs in Egypt. She later noticed that the affected breast had become way smaller than the other breast. She mentioned it to her mistress who sent her to see a general physician there. After seeing and examining her, the Doctor diagnosed breast cancer and added that she needed further evaluation to establish the full extent of the disease. She was subsequently advised that she would require surgery which would involve total removal of both breasts. This news greatly alarmed her, hence her distress call to me. She confided in me that she believed it was a spiritual attack and she needed to seek help as soon as possible in Ghana. I told her right away that it was not spiritual and that she should stay for the surgery. She did not entirely agree with me and the line went dead🙄.
Unbeknownst (brofo 😂🤣) to me and the rest of the family, my sister had apparently asked for permission off work to undergo treatment in Ghana so she could have family support. Upon arrival in Ghana, she rather sought spiritual intervention at a prayer camp in the Eastern region. After several months of worsening health condition, the pastor has now referred her to the hospital for a medical intervention….
Oh, Ghana!😭 When oo When?
WHAT IS BREAST CANCER
Breast cancer is the abnormal or uncontrolled growth of cells of the breast tissue. The normal breast is made up of various cells and tissues including fatty tissue, ducts and lobules. For the body to maintain its structure, new cells grow to replace old ones every now and then in almost every organ of the body. If this mechanism is disrupted for any reason, the new cells grow out of control and the old ones persist longer leading to cancer of the affected part. If this happens in the breast, it is called breast cancer. The commonest presentation of breast cancer is the feeling of a lump in the breast.
“I feel lumps in my breast quite often, could it be a sign of breast cancer?”
First of all, not every lump in the breast is to be feared. Depending on the time of the month, your breasts may feel lumpy (usually during ovulation when hormones are high). Also depending on how, you hold the breast, the normal fatty tissue of the breast can feel lumpy. In effect, not all lumps are harmful but you need to get every lump checked out by a doctor.
Types of Breast lumps
There are two types of breast lumps. The benign breast lumps (non-cancerous) and malignant breast lumps (cancerous).
What causes breast cancer?
Like many other non-communicable diseases the cause is not known but an interplay of many factors put some at risk than others. These include those that can be worked on (modifiable) and those that nothing can be done about (non- modifiable)
Non-modifiable risk factors
Genetic factors: Some genes play a key role in ensuring that new cells are normal. These genes destroy any abnormal new cells. Others also prevent cells from living too long. Changes in the function of any of these genes (known as mutations) can have deleterious effects. For example; Inheriting mutated BRCA1 and/or BRCA 2 genes from either parent increase one’s chance of developing breast cancer by 72% and 69% respectively. This mutation runs in families and you can’t, unfortunately exchange your genes at the market square.
Age: Increasing age is associated with the development of breast cancer. Usually in women 50 years and older. Although we are seeing more young people developing breast cancer now, age still plays an important role.
Early Menarche/ late menopause: Girls 👭 who start their menses before the age of 12 as well as women who have menopause after the age of 55 have greater exposure to estrogen and thus are at higher risk of breast cancer.
Modifiable risk factors
Physical inactivity: The association of physical inactivity and breast cancer alone stands at an average 10%
Poor diet: diet rich in saturated fats, low in vegetables and fruits increase the risk of non-communicable diseases including breast cancer
Alcohol: it used to be said that men drink more than women. But in Ghana, my beloved country now, we can’t say that for sure. Ladies are competing seriously with the men with alcohol☹️
Hormone replacement therapy with progesterone and estrogen increase the risk of breast cancer
Smoking: the use of tobacco is always bad news my people.
How to assess for these symptoms
Monthly self- breast examination ( best after menses)
Clinical breast examination at least once a year for women above age 40yrs, every 3years for people less than 40years)
The presence of any of these symptoms warrants an immediate visit to the Doctor. After examining, a tiny piece of breast tissue (called a biopsy) is taken to the laboratory to be examined. This helps to confirm the presence of otherwise of breast cancer.
The severity of the disease is then assessed in a process called staging. Breast cancer is staged from zero to four. The higher the stage, the worse the disease, and the worse the survival rate. Mostly, diseases detected early are more likely to be in an earlier stage and imply a higher survival rate☺️.
Is breast cancer spiritual?🧐
No. Breast cancer is a physical illness that needs physical action. Of course, the Bible commands us to pray about our needs. While in physical therapy, one can continue to pray🙏🏾.
Can breast cancer be cured?
Yes! But only if it’s detected very early. If it’s caught at an early stage and has not spread into surrounding or distant parts of the body, it is curable.💯
Can men get breast cancer? 🤔
YES!! If you’re a man, and you have any of the risk factors above, then you’re at risk paaa😒. If you have a family history of breast cancer or BRCA mutations, you are at risk, my brother.
Prevention of breast cancer
This includes modification of all modifiable factors.
Increase your physical activity to at least 150 minutes every week. Every increase in physical activity however still counts so get moving ny3bro😆 (my brother in Ewe) https://hectoriaawekeya.com/keep-moving/
Enrich your diet with more fruits and vegetables ( are we still stuck on goats and leaves? I beg let me alight here papa driver 😂 ) and reduce salt in your diet. Here are practical ways to do so on https://hectoriaawekeya.com/tasty-foe/
Manage your weight especially as you get older. Don’t be caught in the Ghanaian web of wa y3 fine papa. 😂 meaning you are looking good ( when you are actually getting obese☹️). Eat right and exercise 🏃🏾♀️
There are boils and there are cancers my sister!😢 A boil that won’t burst or dissolve after 3 weeks is no mere boil😱. Please seek help immediately.👍🏾
Until I come your way again soon, get screened and stay safe💪🏾…XoXo