"She never seemed shattered; to me, she was a breathtaking mosaic of the battles she had won."Nicole Munoz
One cannot comprehend what one hasn't experienced, therefore, it's inhuman to compare our hardships. On National Cancer Awareness Day, November 7, we acknowledge the population of more than 17 million, who are struggling in silence against this disease.
Cancer is a deadly disease that breaks someone emotionally, psychologically, and physically. It is an uncontrolled and abnormal division of cells within the body that leads to the formation of malignant tumors. It is, by definition, a gene-related, non-communicable disease of the body.
Cancer can be specific to the lung, colon or rectum, breast, prostrate, pancreas, brain, stomach, liver, kidney, esophagus, bladder and other body parts vital for its functioning.
Cancer is like a silent weapon that goes undetected until it begins to manifest in physical symptoms. There is a good chance of saving one's life by opting for medical treatment but the real problem is the timely detection of the disease.
Even after that, the treatment in itself is a serious financial worry for the patient. Being vigilant about some early symptoms and a regular medical check-up can be a big step to help in stopping the cancerous cells in the body.
Fatigue, drastic weight loss, chronic coughing, chronic headaches, abnormal growth in the breasts, continued diarrhea, blood in stools are symptoms that should not be taken for granted.
Rigorous campaigns have been going on globally regarding breast cancer. Women diagnosed with it have accepted that they ignored the unexplained lump felt in the breast(s).
There are even do-it-yourself examinations available to verify your doubts if you feel hesitation in outright reaching out to a medical professional. Although, hesitation should not stop you from taking care of yourself or your family members. Cancer doesn't affect the patient only, it is by extension a hefty emotional burden on the family members also.
Apart from the genetic composition, there are many other factors that affect our health. Basic lifestyle changes are always a good way of preventing many diseases. Avoid alcohol, smoking, chewing tobacco, exposing our skin to sunlight for long (if we need to be outside then we must apply sunscreen) and irregular eating habits.
We can and we must opt for a healthy diet which includes variegated and colorful vegetables. Exercise on a daily basis with the proper amount of water intake, using protection against possible STDs and getting a vaccination for HPV.
National Cancer Awareness Day holds significance as long as we are able to absorb the essence of its meaning. If we are among the fortunate ones who have never been diagnosed or never known a loved one who has faced this situation then we should not take this day for granted. What we need to understand is that this is not just any other disease. There is still no known cure for cancer if, God forbid, the situation has gotten out of control. Also, it takes a toll on all we know. We aren't the patient alone. The studies show an increase in the projected number of patients in the coming future. This is proof that we need to spread as much awareness as possible- a day every year isn't enough!
If you are a cancer warrior or a cancer survivor you can educate people through your story. If you have known a close one who has been through it then you can share the story from the point of view of a passive bystander who can do nothing but hope for the convalescence of the suffering member.
We can as responsible citizens take a pledge for our health and for the health of our fellow family and friends also.