Raising awareness about breast cancer.

Raising awareness about breast cancer.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Knowing the fear that is associated with the disease, I thought of doing this post with help from my gynaLecologist friend instead of just Googling the information.

It is a sad state, indeed, as most of us today depend upon Google to supply us information about illnesses, diseases and their cures least aware about how misleading it really is. Asking a trusted medical practitioner for guidance will, actually, save us a lot of stress and confusion. Hence, I turned to my friend for details about this disease.

Breast cancer cases have increased over the years and so has the fear revolving around it. Breast Cancer Awareness is an effort to not only raise awareness about the disease, but also educate women about how they can help themselves with better information and the care they can take in order to lead healthier lives.

This is a general post but with a lot of input and helpful advice given by my friend for us women in the hope of clearing the notions about the disease and help drive away its fear.

What is Breast Cancer and what are the signs and symptoms?

Breast Cancer is the cancer that develops from the tissues of the breast.

The main signs of breast cancer are lumps in the breast, change in the shape of the breast, depression in the skin on the breast, unusual fluid discharge from the nipple, an inverted nipple or a patch on the skin.

A change in the appearance of your breast needs to be given due attention

Who is at a greater risk?

Women who have a family history of breast cancer are at a greater risk of this disease. Women who may have suffered from the disease could also fall victim to it because of its recurrence.

Other than these, typically women over the age of 45, especially those who have had late pregnancies or no pregnancies and also those who have undergone hormonal replacement therapy could suffer. Earlier, the cases of women above the age of 45 suffering from the disease was normal, albeit a rarity, but today, due to the change in our lifestyle as well as late marriages and later pregnancies, the age at risk has come down to 30-35 years.

Changing lifestyle:

Our lifestyle has undergone a sea change today. With rising ambitions, women tend to postpone marriage and having children. This lack of childbearing and breast feeding can increase the risk of breast cancer. Also, consumption of alcohol and smoking among women has risen thanks to a modern mindset. This utter disregard to one’s health can increase the risk of not just breast cancer but other diseases, too.

Usage of pills to postpone or stop your periods also exposes your body to hormonal changes that result in hormonal exposure that may show its effects at a later stage.

Workaholics, who tend to place their career before everything else, often put in extra hours, especially at night. And, what my friend told me about this trend was rather disturbing. Our hormones that work during the day are different from those that work during the night and due to this change in our daily schedules, there occurs a hormonal imbalance. This, too, puts people at a risk of not just breast cancer, but also other lifestyle diseases.

Genetics play a huge role in cancer and hence, those with a family history are at a greater risk.

Self-help is the first step:

Self-examination is the first step in staying aware of any changes occurring within our bodies as we know our bodies better! Regular examination of your breast to see if you find any changes in your breast size or the nipple, or if you feel something that resembles a lump could help you act faster.

However, one also needs to know that if you experience pain in your breast, it could be as a result of PMS, or excess exercising or doing an activity your body isn’t used to on an everyday basis.

How to examine your breast:

Early detection through self-examination always helps. A monthly self-examination will, thus, inform you better about any changes than going in for clinical tests.

Stand in front of the mirror and observe your breasts for any outward signs of change. Check if they appear the same size, or if there is any discolouration or patches that weren’t present earlier.

Next, use your palm (and not fingers) to palpate your breast to feel for any lumps underneath. This examination by touch will tell you if there is any abnormality within.

Is mammography really needed?

We come across a lot of advertisements about breast cancer awareness and how we need to get a mammogram done on a regular basis to make sure we are safe. Following these adverts, and going in for mammograms can lead to more heartache and stress.

Mammograms come at a later stage, that is, only if and when you do come across a lump while self-examination. It’s a clinical advice given by the concerned medical practitioner after checking the patient. Therefore, it helps if you trust yourself and not get carried away by all that you read.

Mammography is not recommended for anybody and everybody. it is used to rule out any malignancy. There are new imaging techniques apart from mammography that give you a hint if you require to be monitored or not.

So, do not fall for all such ads from corporate hospitals. These only cause a lot of stress even if there is really no reason to worry. And, if while self-examination, you do come across some lumps, visit your gynaecologist who will examine you further and then advice you about the next step to follow, like getting an ultra sound done.

Ask questions to your doctor and clarify your doubts if mammography is really going to benefit you.

The fear revolving around breast cancer:

Breast cancer is something that people fear. The disfigurement that it causes if one has to get a breast removed, or even a part of the breast removed, can lead to trauma. The change in one’s appearance and how it changes ones attitude towards oneself can often lead to depression.

Confiding in your partner and family helps a great deal as that gives you the emotional support you require during such a crisis.

Do not be obsessed that even a slight pain in the breast is going to be cancer if you do not belong to the high risk group.

Remember, every lump can not be cancer, but any lump must not be ignored.

If there is pain, it is infected, and if there is no pain, it can be malignant, but not always.

How you can help yourself stay healthy:

Reduce mental stress, and make your life simpler. Let go of all that clutters your life, as in activities that demand a lot of your time and attention leaving you with no time for relaxation. Remember, not everything is really worth it. Respect your time and also your health.

Follow a fitness regimen as well as a healthy and a balanced diet on an everyday basis. Lack of exercise can lead to a lot of health problems–a fact that is known by all, but not taken seriously.

Follow a daily schedule that gives you enough time to rest at night. Try and complete all your tasks before your bed time so that you get the necessary 7 hours of undisturbed , peaceful sleep.

Do follow the self-examination technique regularly and stay aware of any changes occurring in your body.

I hope this post was helpful to you all. If you have had a family member or friends who might have been victims of this disease, do share their experiences and any advice that could be of help to everyone. It will go a long way in creating awareness and staying healthy and safe.

Love,

SHILPA…

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Behind closed doors.

Behind closed doors.

Metanoia

I have been on a reading spree, of late; just finished reading my second book from among the trio I bought last Sunday –  ‘I let you go‘, by Clare Mackintosh. A psychological thriller, it was the kind of unputdownable books I prefer to read. I finished it in about two days; it could have taken me even less time had there not been any other work needing my attention!

The book begins with a hit and run case, but gradually emerges to be the tragic story of the heroine fleeing her miserable life as a victim of domestic violence. The writing is bold, in that  the scenes depicting the violence inflicted by the husband are graphic. It does need a lot of strength and willpower to  read about the acts of violence endured by the poor woman at the hands of her beastly  husband. I shuddered as…

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You are The Man!

You are The Man!

On this Women’s Day (2018) sharing this post from last year. Saluting Woman Power!

Metanoia

I admit, I am late in discussing this event, but did you watch the controversial ‘Koffee with Karan’ episode, two weeks ago? The one where the uber-talented Kangana Ranaut and Saif Ali Khan were Karan Johar’s guests on his famous couch, sipping coffee along with him? Did you notice Kangana’s confidence and her sassiness?   Do you remember her repartees, her jibes, her ripostes that were well-aimed at Mr. Johar? How fearlessly she spoke her mind without mincing words! And, she was in conversation with one of the Big Daddies of Bollywood!

I am an admirer of Ms. Ranaut, and I was blown away by her candour. The fact that she gave two hoots about diplomacy, and about the men in power in the hindi film industry,  shows how self-assured she is. She wasn’t born into the industry, with a silver spoon; she entered the industry as an “outsider”, who…

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You are The Man!

You are The Man!

 

I admit, I am late in discussing this event, but did you watch the controversial ‘Koffee with Karan’ episode, two weeks ago? The one where the uber-talented Kangana Ranaut and Saif Ali Khan were Karan Johar’s guests on his famous couch, sipping coffee along with him? Did you notice Kangana’s confidence and her sassiness?   Do you remember her repartees, her jibes, her ripostes that were well-aimed at Mr. Johar? How fearlessly she spoke her mind without mincing words! And, she was in conversation with one of the Big Daddies of Bollywood!

I am an admirer of Ms. Ranaut, and I was blown away by her candour. The fact that she gave two hoots about diplomacy, and about the men in power in the hindi film industry,  shows how self-assured she is. She wasn’t born into the industry, with a silver spoon; she entered the industry as an “outsider”, who, despite being written off by the industry bigwigs, worked her way up the very competitive ladder, right to the top, and proved to one and all what nerves she is made of!

And, as I watched her, awestruck at the strength she displayed, I wished I was cut from the same cloth. I wished I had the ability to hold my own when faced with dilemmas that rendered me helpless, and submit to the whims of fate. I wished I had it in me to care a damn about people and their judgemental ways, and live life as I please. I wished I had the guts to face life’s tough times as bravely as she has and make myself proud of the way I handled things.

The thoughts dwelled on in my mind for quite a long time after the show ended. I did beat myself up for being a ninny and not building courage to face the upheavals in life. However, as this mental storm subsided and as the dark clouds of self-doubt and self-loathing cleared, I realised I hadn’t been less of a fighter myself! Agreed, I am not like Kangana, or any other Superwoman out there, but then, neither are my battles like those of the others!  I may not have shown the conventional bravado we are used to seeing celebrated all around us, but, I did show presence of mind,  patience and tact when the situations asked for it.

I went for a walk down memory lane, reliving all the tough times I have been through and saw how well I had dealt with whatever destiny handed me. I felt proud of myself and gave myself a pat on my back for having made it through every storm I faced, without thinking of quitting, ever. I honoured  The Hero within me for all those times I know others in my place would have given up. I applauded myself and my graceful performance  and came back feeling good!

Today, as I write this post, I feel that every woman out there who has fought a hundred battles in her life is, indeed, a hero. If she were to recognise her mettle,  discover her forbearance and proudly show off the scars her wounds give her, she would realise what a hero she is! Our battles are different and so is our fighting technique. We fight the way we were built to, but, the bottom line is,  we fight.

We often associate heroism with masculinity, seldom realising that facing the battles of life also requires  gentleness and patience apart from determination and courage. It isn’t easy making it out there despite the threats to your life right since the time you are in your mother’s womb, or born a female in our male-dominated society. It isn’t easy dreaming of reaching for the skies of the competitive world where we are considered the “weaker sex”. Neither is it easy making it in life with all the expectations of society and the family foisted on us at every step of the way.

And, yet, we make it. We make it into this world, we make it past the hurdles strewn all along the way to fulfil our dreams; dreams of an education, a career and even dreams of bringing up a family singlehandedly. Caring for each and every soul in our life, we plough on to reach our goals, with minimum support and applause.

So, isn’t it time we applauded ourselves? Isn’t it time we doffed our hat to ourselves for all that we have achieved; for our bravery, for the wounds we carry so proudly, rarely giving the world a glimpse of these, and smiling despite the tears, and the fears?

I think we ought to. For if we don’t, who would?

So, to all the women out there,  pat your back, hug yourself and take a bow…YOU MADE IT! Despite everything, you made it. You are braving all odds, facing a million hurdles, striving to live your dreams, despite everything. And, even as you do it all, you are taking your loved ones along with you, fulfilling every duty, every promise you are expected to, by your family, by the society, by the world.

Kudos to you, girl!

You are, truly, a hero.

Wishing all the beautiful women out there, a very happy Women’s Day!

Love,

SHILPA…

P.S.

Attaching this note now, after reading a few comments of my blogger friends:

The title, ‘You are The Man’, is no attempt at trying to find ( and glorify) the Man within the Woman, but, it’s just a play on words.

Contradictory as it may sound –  the title and the post – I don’t have any intentions to prove that I am as strong and capable as a man. I am happy and proud with the woman in me who can deal with life and her weird ways much more competently than a man!

😇

Love,

Shilpa.

Why whisper, when you can be carefree? #Period Pride

Why whisper, when you can be carefree? #Period Pride

                 I had my first period at the age of 12, and today, as I sense  menopause peeping from round the corner, I remember a statement made by a professor way back in college:

Celebrate menstruation! It is what makes you a woman!”

Golden words, those, considering, we women hate this thing we would like to think of as  an affliction! When I first learnt about it, I wondered if only women in our country suffered from it! Hilarious, I know, but in my day and  age, innocence still existed. With no Internet to illuminate us with information, we were too naive to understand life and her ways.  Discussing such taboo topics with elders was considered to be strict no-no. Mother did advice me on what I was supposed to do if something “went wrong” in her absence. But, Dad was not to be consulted as he had no knowledge about anything of the sort!
I would often wonder when I would be rid of this monthly trauma, and so once  badgered mother to tell me when I would become a free bird.  She muffled a laugh, wrapped me in her arms and enlightened me  that my periods would be my companion for more than half of my lifetime! I almost fainted.
Mother would recount tales of how  women from olden days were treated  during those few days  of the month. They would have to stay in an outhouse, or some dark and dingy room all by themselves and their plates of food would be pushed towards them through the door left ajar for such tasks, lest they “touched” someone and contaminated them.
They were forbidden from entering temples and kitchens, for they were impure. And if by mistake they did brush past someone, then that person had to have an immediate bath!  I was aghast at that piece of news! I also found out how certain practices  existed when I was young. Maybe they do so now, too! Maybe the way it is considered a taboo and has laws pertaining to behaviour during those days,is the reason why it  is looked down upon as an exasperating issue  rather than just another bodily function.
Some years ago, mother had invited some guests at her place and some religious rituals also had to be performed. I was on my period precisely at that time, but I decided to keep mum about it and help mother, lest all the work fell on her shoulders. As I went about completing the chores, I wondered why God, who created us, would consider His children to be impure because of something He Himself had blessed them with! How could our God be so petty? I confessed to mother a few days later fearing the worst. But, mother was a lot more progressive in her views than I gave her credit for and accepted my views proudly! I wish every mother would be like mine.
I  know that I am hurting sentiments by saying such things; I am aware how strongly some people feel about it. I have also read about some “scientific reasons” behind these so called laws. However, treating periods as a natural physiological occurrence, like urinating, would be a lot more sensible, isn’t it? Also, discussing it with girls, as well as boys, when they come of age, and making them aware of the various eco-friendly products that can be used during periods, would help create the awareness it so deserves. Doing away with age-old laws and  assuming a  more progressive outlook will help the  Naari lead a better and a happier life.

*Linking this post to Write Tribe #Period Pride.