Life with Breast Cancer (In Conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month)

I hope it's not too late for me to write about this but October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and having personally known young and otherwise healthy individuals who are/were affected by cancer I wanted to do the least that I could to help PRIDE Foundation in their mission to raise awareness about breast cancer. My friend Ami Schaheera passed away from leukemia earlier this year (may Allah bless her soul and reward her patience with Paradise) so I understand the importance of creating awareness and having a good support network. When I read her interview in EH! Magazine I had no idea she was going through so much while being such a sweet and cheerful fashionista at the same time. She reminded me of Kris Carr, a Stage 4 cancer patient who has documented her life and battle with so much spirit and strength ever since she received the diagnosis.

I'd like you to spare some time to watch Cheryl's personal account of her battle with breast cancer in the video above. One of the things that struck me while listening to her was that she found a lump while performing a monthly self-examination. It's scary to think about how cancer develops. One month ago the lump wasn't there and then there it was. Another thing about cancer is that it can happen to anyone (yes, even men can get breast cancer!) so it's important that we educate ourselves about some key facts on breast cancer:

  • Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer death among Malaysian women. 
  • 1 in 19 women may get breast cancer in her lifetime. 
  • Breast cancer accounts for 31% of all newly diagnosed cancer cases. 
  • 64% cases were women aged 40 - 60 years. 
  • Nearly 40% of new cases were in advanced stages.
  • In the United States, 1 out of 100000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer whereas 120 out of 100000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Whoa. 1 in 19 women may get breast cancer.  Okay, I was told no one knows for sure what causes breast cancer but there are lifestyle-related risk factors that could contribute to it, such as:
  • Having had no children or late pregnancies after age 35 
  • Oral contraceptive use 
  • Hormone replacement therapy 
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Obesity and high-fat diets 
  • Physical inactivity

There are ways to prevent breast cancer but it's also vital that we remember no one is immune to it and it's our responsibility get ourselves checked and perform monthly self-examinations. Here's how it can be done. Should you ever have any doubts or concerns don't feel ashamed to see a doctor and request for a female one so you feel more comfortable. If you ever need a support network, the PRIDE Foundation is always willing to help. Their motto is 'Friends helping friends fight breast cancer' :) You can stay up to date with their activities via Facebook and find an opportunity to meet the team in person or you may also call their support line at +603 7960 0366.

Last but not least, here's a reminder to myself and everyone out there. Be it cancer or a bad day, everyone is struggling with something and it's possible you don't even know about it. This is when the smallest gestures could mean a lot. If someone does confide in you and you don't know what to say or do to make them feel better, keep Brené Brown's advice in mind which has taught me a lot, especially this part: "Because the truth is, rarely can a response make something better, what makes something better is connection."


Fida Islaih said…
Thank you for giving us more information about this.
Shahirah Elaiza said…
@ Fida, you're welcome <3