Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Breast Cancer And The Young Nigerian

To say cancer is a killer disease will be stating the obvious. Until recently, most Nigerians have viewed this disease as exclusive to the West or in another case to the wealthy of the society. It is this misconception that has made people to adopt a carefree attitude in relation to the dangers of this disease. The fact that Nigeria is still a developing country with inadequate healthcare facilities and doctors that misdiagnose more than they cure contributes to this problem. Cancer is not a new disease and neither is it a rich man's disease. There have been sufferers who come from poor backgrounds but due to ignorance, missed an early diagnosis of the disease and in some cases attributed it to the handiwork of vengeful supernatural entities. While there are many forms of cancer, I shall be focusing on breast cancer for the purpose of this article.

Now a little about breast cancer. There are two types of breast cancer. The non invasive and the invasive cancer.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) - the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer, DCIS begins in the lining of the milk ducts, is composed of cells that have malignant features, but has not yet spread to other parts of the body. However, DCIS is considered a precursor to invasive breast cancer, and can develop into breast cancer if not treated. Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) - the second most common non-invasive condition, LCIS develops in the milk lobules (milk-producing glands) and can be a risk marker for future breast cancer, but is not a direct pre-cursor.

Invasive Breast Cancer
Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) - the most common type of breast cancer affecting women today, IDC originates in the lining of milk ducts and then penetrates the duct walls into surrounding breast tissue. This invasive characteristic identifies cancer cells that may spread to other parts of the body.
Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) - ILC is the second most frequent type of invasive breast cancer, accounts for about 10 to 15% of all invasive breast cancers. ILC originates in the milk-producing glands, or lobules, of the breasts, and similar to IDC, has the capacity to spread to other parts of the body.

Now many people with early breast cancer do not show any symptoms, but breast awareness and self exam helps in early detection. As for self exam, it has been taught that women should lie down on their backs during this exercise.This because when a woman is on her back, the breast tissue spreads evenly over the chest wall and is as thin as possible, making it much easier to feel all the breast tissue. After lying down, the woman should then proceed to place her right arm behind her head and then use the finger pads of the 3 middle fingers on her left hand to feel for lumps in the right breast in overlapping dime-sized circular motions as she feels the breast tissue.

Why have I expanded so much energy treating breast cancer? A young beautiful woman called Debbie.

The Young Nigerian called Debbie

The Nigerian twittersphere has been agog these days with appeals for funds to save people with varying types of disease and with the aid of prominent online twitter personalities like Japheth Omojuwa, there have been recorded successes, which in turn has encouraged more people to resort to using the online networking site to bring cases of more sick people to the foreground. 

One of the recent cases is that of Debbie. Debbie Osarere Odiagbonya is a young Nigerian lady who used to work as a medical technician. Now Debbie has been diagnosed with 4th grade invasive Ductal Carcinoma - cancer of the breast and has been given one month to live by her doctor unless six million Naira is raised for a surgery. Now from studies on the disease, it is clear that Debbie's cancer is at a very advanced stage. Her left breast has been completely ravaged by the disease and it has spread to her second breast and her neck. While ordinary Nigerians rally around this young woman, trying to raise whatever they can in the hope that it is enough to save her, one cannot help but realize how hopeless the healthcare system in Nigeria is. If Debbie were to be in a developed country, apart from early diagnosis, proper treatment would have been given to her. Now even with double mastectomy and chemotherapy, there is only a slim chance that she will survive, except of course by divine healing, (yes, I believe in the supernatural). Even more disheartening is the knowledge that people are susceptible to these diseases and only have access to half baked medical practitioners in a society ran by obese money grabbers posing as politicians. As we watch and pray for Debbie and donate whatever we can while cursing the ineptitude of a government that allows its citizens to live by poor standards, I advocate that people should put more efforts in checking their health. Regular medical check up is necessary.  Go for the swabs, and tests that keep you updated about your help. Develop a health conscious lifestyle and don't forget the self exam. 

For those interested in donating funds to save Debbie -

Bank: Access bank
Account no: 0000216933
Account name: Idiagbonya Osarere Deborah.

May God bless and enrich your lives as you do so.

Umari Ayim

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