Why are women in Africa afraid of speaking out about changes in their breast ?
I always wonder why people always get intimidated about what others say about them, even if they know its going to cost them their lives. I want to tell you a short story. Last year (2013), we visited some women who were admitted with stage 3 Breast Cancer. Unfortunately all died leaving their children and husband in tears. It was extremely sad trying to comfort the husbands and the kids. Seeing so much family around a dying person, some crying and some just sitting there looking gloom, is a picture you just can’t forget.
A friend of mine lost his wife to breast cancer after just seven years of marriage. This unfortunately could have been avoided, even with the complications and challenges of having breast cancer in Africa. She was only 28 years old and had a lovely 5-year-old boy. She leaved in Africa and the husband was working in Dubai and came home one month in every five months. It was a bit challenging, but he was working his visa to enable him invite his family to join him.
Early in 2013, she informed the husband that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she was advised to remove the lump. This was devastating for the husband as he had no idea what that mean and thought the worst immediately. Following the reaction of the husband the wife decided to treat herself using local herbal remedies, without telling the husband. In fact she was telling the husband that she was visiting a qualified doctor, when she was actually using local remedies.
To cut the long story short. She died from hiding the truth about her condition to her husband and was ashamed to speak out about her condition because her friends told her that if she removed or altered her breast the husband would no longer love her. In my opinion, it was the bad advise and counselling that killed her. From counselling many women, it is really disturbing that the factors leading to the high rate of mortalities caused by breast cancer in Africa, is the ‘fear’ of speaking out.
Most women in Africa are afraid of speaking out about changes in their breast. There is this fear of people laughing at them and their partners no longer finding them attractive. This fear is really a challenge. I feel for these women as there is an element of truth in their fears, but it also depends on the partners. Having breast Cancer, is an abnormality that occurrs being no fault of thier.
Your partner may just be in as much worry as you would be when he hears the news. He may not have enough information and understanding about what’s happening to your body, as also fear crisps in. They maybe confused on how to deal with the developing challenges. Which is the fear of dying. It is crucial that you share your changes with your partners as soon as you notice anything. This can make it easier and try to encourage him to help in the checking of the breast each month (3 days) after the period. This would make it easier to talk about together.
Do not allow the negative talks or gossips of your friends or family stop you from living. Choose life. These same friends would be the same people who would come to the funeral of the dead person wearing thew finest clothes. I can just hear them saying, “why did she not speak out on time?” yeap, while eating the free food and drinking the free drinks. Sad 🙁
While we were in some market in a particular rural part in Africa, some women were shy to come out for our free breast screening, for they said that it was women who had been unfaithful that developed breast cancer. Funny, but sad. Many women think this way in Africa and we just need to continue preaching the early detection message and keep getting more rural women checked and referred.
Please check your armpits and breast for lumps now and even if you don’t find anything, let your partner be aware of what you are doing by getting them involved. Do it together. Continue to follow our messages and . Share it to your friends and you would be helping to save one life. Thank you and see you at chabsuk in London or when we visit your community in Africa. If you would like us to visit your community, please drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org