Some time ago actress Angelina Jolie made headlines again and it was not about her films. It was the news that she had had a double mastectomy, a procedure for partial or complete surgical removal of the breast. The reason she stated was that she was the carrier of a gene which considerably heightened the risk of her getting breast cancer. Her mother had died of the disease and she wished to spare her children the pain she had seen herself. The actress had breast reconstruction procedures before publicly announcing about the operations. Her move was aimed at encouraging women to take proactive decisions about their health.
Important though it is to be aware of all available options, such radical steps are rarely necessary for women at risk of or suffering from cancer. There are various ways to treat breast cancer depending on the stage of the disease. Timely diagnosis is a crucial issue. The longer the cancer is allowed to spread the more difficult it becomes to get rid of it without doing much harm to the surrounding tissue. And this is important because women in our culture prefer to remain silent about health issues that are considered even remotely sexual. There is also the fear of disfigurement, scarring and permanent damage to the female form. Though physical wholesomeness is of utmost importance to anyone’s self image, more so to women again for cultural reasons, it is an inevitable sacrifice to protect one’s health and life.
It is up to the family of a woman to support her emotionally and otherwise during the treatment and recovery period. The stressful side effects of chemotherapy and scarring from surgery make the patient more vulnerable to despair.
Cancer treatment is expensive and few women in Pakistan could afford additional procedures of breast reconstruction. The problem is very grave as 1 in 9 women in Pakistan may fall prey to the disease. It is therefore important to realize that the sooner you detect and apprehend the disease the quicker and less complex would it be to get rid of it. Prioritizing health in one’s economic considerations is necessary. It is important to be aware of risk factors such as family history, cholesterol level, the impact of alcohol and age.
Young women have to exert themselves to develop a culture of valuing themselves and being proactive. Every year GB sends a number of young girls on reserved seats to medical colleges and most of them end up specializing in gynecology. It would be advisable to encourage them towards the field of oncology as it is often very important for women and their families to be treated by female doctors. Despite all the advances in medical science, cancer remains a disease which is not yet completely curable. Structural as well as cultural improvements are needed to protect and save women from it. Information and timely action are the best tools of defense. It is also necessary to conduct a detailed study of the occurrence of the disease and the ability of the health infrastructure in GB to tackle the problem so that statistics and demographic facts are determined.
More detailed information about breast cancer can be found at:
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