Pink October is celebrated as a month of reflection, healing, and education about breast cancer, which affects 1 in 8 women all around the world. In Malaysia, 1 in 19 women is at risk for this deadly illness, and over 50% of those diagnosed with the illness are under the age of 50. Among the general public, knowledge and awareness of breast cancer, its symptoms, and its treatment process are still alarmingly low, despite it affecting a significant number of people. The importance of educating the public on breast cancer is that it can aid in early diagnosis, which in turn will help to gain a better prognosis and treatment for the patient.
Cancer is essentially the overgrowth of cells in the human body that eventually forms a tumor. Cells in the human body grow and die based on the needs of the body, but cancer cells behave abnormally and keep multiplying without control. These abnormal cancerous cells can either be harmless non-cancerous cells or deadly cancerous cells that, if left unexamined, will eventually spread to other parts of the body.
Based on the breast cancer stage, those cancer cells can grow and affect the underarm lymph nodes, which are small organs that filter foreign substances from the body, and travel through the lymph fluids to the rest of the body. Only 5%–10% of breast cancers are linked to hereditary causes, while 85% of breast cancer diagnoses are due to genetic abnormalities caused by ageing and the process of life.
Breast cancer symptoms can vary; some may experience swelling, skin dimpling, breast or nipple pain, and even bleeding from the nipple. While it is common to check for lumps in the breast as an indicator of cancer, some lumps are sometimes too small to feel, and large lumps are sometimes harmless.
Though cancer risks like gender, age, race, ethnicity, and family history cannot be changed or controlled, there are other risks that people manage in order to try to evade the illness. For instance, it is strongly advised to generally lead a healthy lifestyle, meaning that you should maintain your weight at a healthy size and not fall into obesity, as overweight women are more at risk of getting cancer. Additionally, cutting down on or eliminating unhealthy substances like smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can help prevent cancer. Breastfeeding and early pregnancies can also aid in preventing breast cancer diagnoses.
It is greatly beneficial for people, even if they are not showing any symptoms, to get regular breast cancer screenings. Early detection of breast cancer helps doctors treat the illness and can increase the possibility of survival. Moreover, regular screening post-diagnosis is also vital in helping to monitor the development of your cancer.
Above all, October is a month of hope for patients with breast cancer; the month is filled with education, enlightenment, and building community strength with one another. Cancer is a painful and tragic occurrence, and no one has to be condemned to endure it in isolation. Forming strong and earnest community bonds with other cancer patients, building more open and truthful relationships with your loved ones, and developing your own unique way of maintaining a strong spirit will greatly aid you in coping with cancer.