When Woman’s Breasts Lose Energy... Becoming Excess Luggage
By MICHAEL ODIGBE
On March 18, 2009 a Newspaper Daily sun published the pathetic story of Mrs. Nkechi Nwagbo, a journalist, whose right breast has been ravaged by cancer. Currently, the once ebullient woman is no more talking about her profession. Neither does she see breasts anymore as erogenous, love centres only. From her experience today, she has come to realise that breasts after all have a bad side and can also be tormentors – indeed, toxic excess luggage. And, so, she is wishing she never had them as a woman. In this magazine, WEEKEND OBSERVER digs into the horrifying world of breast cancer now afflicting the woman.
What is cancer?
To start with, cancer is a form of deadly disease. It occurs when the DNA in a human cell is damaged and is neither repaired nor does the cell commit suicide through a natural process called apoptosis. Under this circumstance the damaged cell begins to behave abnormally by multiplying uncontrollably leading to growths or what are called malignant lumps in women’s breasts.
Cancer can attack any tissue or organ of the body, be it the brain, eye, throat, stomach, liver lungs, colon, prostate, cervix, uterus, ovaries or blood. Just name it. No man, woman or child is safe from cancer. Every one of us carries risk of having the disease.
The scourge of breast cancer
In this ICT age when feminine sexuality is commercialized, women and girls pay a lot of superficial attention to their breasts. They spend a fortune to improve their sex appeal after which they go to ludicrous extent to expose them to the libidinous eyes of street wise men.
Feminine ignorance about breast cancer further runs deep.
Womenfolk’s are also not aware that breast cancer is the commonest form of cancer in women, having taken the lead from cervical cancer. Hear Prof. Remi Ajekigbe, an oncologist and a consultant radiotherapist at LUTH. In a recent interview, he said: “The commonest type of cancer in Nigeria now is cancer of the breast. Then cancer of the cervix that is inside the private part of a woman is also common. Head and neck cancer. We have cancer of the colon and rectum and we have cancer in children and they are also common in Nigeria just like prostate cancer”.
Initially, cancer of the breast was rarely found in women under 40. however, today, the disease is afflicting young women. Not too long ago, I saw a woman of 24 years of age with breast cancer. She had been suffering from the disease for over two years. After staying in hospital for months and visiting traditional medicine men, she finally decided to seek natural medical therapy. But it was too late. She died.
Dr. Clement Adebamowo, Prof of Surgery at UCH, Ibadan in a paper titled Pathopsysiology and Epidemiology of cancer in Nigeria in 2007 observed that cumulative evidence shows that breast cancer cases are increasing. Things haven’t changed, today. And, so, breast cancer is on the march.
Forward ever, backward never? That is what breast cancer appears to be doing.
It is because womenfolk have, apparently, not addressed the risk factors that predispose them to have the disease. Of course, no one knows the causes of cancer as a whole, including breast cancer. This notwithstanding, researches have unearthed certain factors that create specific enabling environment for breast cancer. These factors include, among others:
Smoking and alcohol abuse.
Ý Exposure to ultra-violet radiation and other carcinogenic environmental hazards.
Ý Non-use or inadequate intake of anti-oxidants that fight ravaging free radicals which can trigger the onset of cancer. Women tend to eat a lot of junk foods which promote the menace of free radicals. Most women are in fact ignorant of nourishing cancer-fighting foods. They don’t even realise that soyabeans is a double –edge food. When you eat it as you grow up, it reduces your risk of breast cancer. However, when breast cancer is diagnosed, you should avoid soyabeans like a plague because it can worsen the
* Lack of or inadequate regular daily exercise.
* Application of antiperspirants/deodorants containing aluminum chlorohydrate and aluminum zirconium. These compounds block sweat pores in the armpits, prevent elimination of toxic sweat from the region and so increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Because of all these factors and several others, breast cancer is on the increase today. This is more so since women don’t seem to be in a hurry to go back to nature with the appropriate modification of their lifestyle and diet. The reasoning is simple: the more artificial life a woman lives, the higher her risk of having breast cancer. Note men also have breast cancer but it is a rare occurrence. However when the scourge strikes men, it is more deadly because their breasts have a smaller mass and relatively no nerves.
Symptoms of the disastrous ailment
To start with, women ought to know that their breasts may not be exactly of the same size and shape. Nature sometimes goofs in allocating tissues to each breast!! So, don’t rush to commonsensical conclusion that one of your breasts is cancerous because it is slightly bigger or smaller than the other one.
However, suspicion that cancer may be about to strike your breasts should be aroused when on personal physical examination of them you at least between three days to a week after your menses, your observe these breast abnormalities. First, there is a lump or lumps in your breast. During your period, you may notice lumps, swellings, knots or thickenings in your breast which disappear after your period. However when these physical changes remain. Then there is a suggestive ground to be on red alert over the development. Don’t however mistake the ridge or firm tissue in the lower curvature of the breast. For a lump. It is a permanent feature of the breast. Second, be worried if you notice changes in the contour of your breast because of a sudden dimpling or depression on the breast skin surface.
Third, are the veins in your breasts becoming enlarged? Also, are the surface locations of discovered lumps developing scales or rashes?
Then, beware!! Cancer may be on the way or may have started ravaging your breast. Four, check your nipples. If they are drawn in, becoming thicker or are now bringing out discharges you should know that some pathology is lurking in your breasts.
Of course, you are duty-bound to visit the hospital as soon as you experience any of these four-case scenarios. Delay may be dangerous. Self-diagnosis is out of the question. Only a well qualified health giver can pronounce on which breast abnormality is cancerous, non-cancerous or predisposed to be cancerous in future.
While warning that man is overdrawing his credit in NATURE’S BANK through damaging the environment daily. Glenn Prickett, Vice-President to Conservation International remarks:
Prevention, they say, is certainly better than cancer treatment, even though it is hard to totally prevent the scourge since no one really known the cause. Why? it is because cases abound when modern science and cut-edge technology have failed to detect breast cancer at its early stage once it has struck. And so the lives of its victims are compromised through no fault of theirs.
Enter the cases of Mrs. Ogbeta, a Nigeria and Mrs. Tanya Martins, an American. Mrs. Ogbeta was a matron; she reported early at a teaching hospital that she had noticed some abnormalities in her breast. Doctors re-assured her that there was no cause for alarm. But later she developed breast cancer which spread to her brain, before killing her.
The case of Mrs. Tanya Martins was more dramatic. When she discovered lumps in her breast in 2003, she rushed to hospital. Genuinely, she feared the lumps could be cancerous since her grandmother died of breast cancer. At the hospital doctors told her that her fears. were misplaced. They explained that since she was still under 35, the possibility of having the disease was remote.
Despite the re-assurance of her doctors, the lumps increased in size. At this stage, she told them it was imperative they tested her. Literally, she forced them to subject her to a test. When they did, they informed her that she only had cysts!! But the lumps she had earlier complained of continued to grow. Soon, they were of the size of a cricket ball.
It was at this point; she was made to undergo an ultrasound scan and asked to come back in two weeks for the result. But she refused the date demanding for the result immediately. And, so, faced with no option, her doctors carried out a biopsy on her breast. Result? They told her that “we are 90% certain you have breast cancer”.
Well, no problems aid the woman. She opted for mastectomy – that–is, a surgical procedure that cuts off the breast as an evasive cure for the cancer. However, her doctors thought otherwise. They preferred chemotherapy.
Wrong decision!! Chemotherapy failed. So, finally, the doctors agreed to cut off her breast. But the procedure was belated. The breast cancer killed the young woman out of capable professional indecision and negligence of the doctors.
Lesson taught by the two cases
All said, the lesson here is that it is presumptuous to assume money can buy off breast cancer when it strikes. You may be a billionaire and still die of the disease after spending a fortune on waging a relentless war on it. Yet just spending a lesser amount on drinking your Herbal teas, eating natural foods, consuming fresh anti-cancer fruits/ vegetables and living RIGHT will go a long way to minimizing your exposure to the risk of breast cancer.
Don’t be kobo wise naira foolish, therefore beware. At the time breast cancer strikes, you may be “unlucky” to be confronted with the wrong diagnosis through no fault of doctors. For instance during breast screening, mammography sometimes may not pick a small, growing lump in a breast that is dense. A sonogram or ultrasound scan is a better screening option. But how many women can pay for this or even for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that is very expensive?
Therefore, as one can see, it is more preferable to ward off breast cancer than to invite it through ignorantly living a hazardous unhealthy life.
Seek a second decision, if need be Doctors are not God personifications in hospital. This is why if you don’t buy a doctor’s opinion after examining’your breast, seek a second or third opinion. Don’t assume all doctors are always right.
Had Mrs. Ogbeta and Mrs. Tanya Martins realised this, they would have been alive today.
Her story as told in Daily Sun of March 18, 2009: “When I noticed what I thought was a harmless slump in my right breast, I went to LUTH for test. Even before the test was done the attending nurse and doctor told me emphatically that it could not be cancer. I really believed them based on their wealth of experience on the job.”
Poor woman. For five months she waited for proper diagnosis. By the time it was made by a doctor, cancer had taken over her breast. Panicking, she rushed to other health institutions. No dice. Cancer is difficult to treat. Out of frustration, she later sought help at University College hospital, Ibadan and from there took flight back to LUTH.
Now, there is a hole in her purse, having tried so much to “tame” the breast cancer. But she hasn’t been able to do so. Imagine a session of chemotherapy costs N150, 000 – the bill for drugs is not included. This isn’t all. After each chemotherapy session she suffers excruciating pains. She is weak and is nauseated for weeks. Her tongue nails and skin darkens. Her hair falls off her head.
Were it possible to have her right cancerous breast amputated so that she can have peace of mind, she would have gladly chosen that option. But doctors say that the cancer has reached a stage where that option is no more tenable. In fact, she has lost all hope to saving her life from the breast cancer in Nigeria. She has therefore completed plans to travel to a hospital in the Bahamas for treatment. But to do so, she needs a whopping N15m which she doesn’t have. Hence, she is appealing to the public for assistance to make the trip. Indeed, breast cancer is a bomb waiting to kill women... waiting to torment her... make her cry and pray she never had breasts at all.
Delay is always dangerous!
Miss. Shakirat Adeoti was a corper and barely 30 when she graduated in Biochemistry from Obafemi Awolowo University and discovered she had breast lumps. Instead of going for screening immediately, she resorted to self-medication, local medicine and spiritual remedies. All failed. Breast cancer is no respecter of ignorance, Baba Ijebu or Pastor chop-and-quench, except maybe early natural remedies or orthodox medicine.
Eventually, Miss. Adeoti rushed to hospital. But it was too late. She lost her two breasts. She also had her two ovaries blasted to prevent them from releasing the estrogen hormone causing the breast cancer but she died at the end of the day, after all the trauma. Pity. Her case was that of delaying appropriate therapy for her breast cancer.
The bottom line
From the foregoing, it is high time our women and young girls realised that breasts should not only be seen as erogenous, energy centres that should be exposed to sexually harass men. They also sometimes contain seeds of torment or death waiting to catch up with womenfolk, most especially. Therefore, instead of always going out shopping for breast teasers, they should go to school to learn everything about breasts. Either this or breast cancer will