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Monday, January 21, 2019

Editorial: Fighting breast cancer

WHAT a difference a decade made for two women undergoing fine needle aspiration procedure (FNAP).

Sally’s doctor gave her only months to live in the diagnosis of her fibrocystic breasts. Fear made Sally consent to having an FNAP, a form of biopsy that entails the insertion of a fine needle to withdraw tissue from cysts for testing.

Sally asked to be anesthetized so she would not feel any pain. However, the doctor insisted she did not need the pain relief.

Recalling the procedure to her friend Amy, Sally said she screamed every time the needle was plunged into her breasts, a procedure that was drawn out because both breasts had several masses to aspirate. Sally even thought that the doctor made several trial insertions to find the masses.

Amy also went through FNAP about 10 years after Sally’s procedure. Her doctor explained the procedure, including the use of anesthesia.

Through imaging, both Amy and the medical team viewed the needle’s single insertion and aspiration of the lumps in each breast. By concentrating on the image projected on the screen, Amy thought the procedure performed on her breasts was like a computer game, the medical equivalent of PacMan gobbling up pac-dots.

Go pink

Fear prevents many women from seeking the tests that will determine whether a breast mass is benign or malignant. Years after the trauma of her FNAP, Sally cannot even manually check her breasts for any lump or see another doctor for a follow-up breast exam.

Amy hopes that reaching out to her friend will help her reevaluate these fears.

As important as innovations in technology and medical procedures is the attitude and behavior of medical specialists, who have the frontline role of educating the public on taking the initiative to be healthy and prevent disease and suffering through early monitoring, detection and prevention.

Civil society also shares the stake in spreading public awareness and mobilization. Social marketing is tapped by women’s health advocates, public and private organizations, and other institutions that plan and carry out many activities this October, observed as the Pink Month, to raise awareness and support of breast cancer patients, survivors, and other vulnerable sectors.

For Pink October, observed nationally and internationally as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, breast examination, consultation and counselling will be offered for free at two malls.

In cooperation with ICanServe Foundation Inc., whose volunteers are cancer survivors, the SM City Cebu converts its mall clinic/breastfeeding station into a pink room every Tuesday and Thursday of October, from 3 to 6 p.m.

At Ayala Center Cebu, the foundation also offers free breast-screening procedure and ob-gyne consultation at the mall’s Family Lounge on all Fridays of October, from 3 to 5 p.m.

Empower

When a woman first discovers an unusual lump while carrying out the most innocuous activity—taking a bath or fastening a brassiere, for instance—the moment is imbued with menace from a fear of the unknown.

These can be paralyzing emotions that can prevent a woman from seeking medical assistance. Depression is also a constant enemy because a woman may be plagued by several fears—of pain, of the costs of medication, of the rejection of sexual partners, of the apathy of medical caregivers and specialists.

Pink October advocates schedule many activities that don’t only address the medical condition but also the psychological state of cancer survivors or other vulnerable sectors. Traditional and new media announce a variety of activities this Pink October in Cebu.

Quota International of Cebu will hold a wig-making workshop on Oct. 20, 6 p.m. at the Gallery in Ayala Center Cebu. On the same occasion, the Bridges Salon will also give free haircuts to those who want to donate their tresses to be made into wigs for cancer survivors.

Those who want to contribute to the cause of cancer awareness can have a carwash at the Basement Parking of the Ayala Center Cebu. A portion of the fees collected during Pink October will go to the ICanServe Foundation.

More than the threat on one’s health, cancer erodes confidence and isolates a person. By supporting Pink October, the public affirms that one is not alone and can be empowered to survive the most trying of threats.
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