Challenge the stereotypes on breast cancer: Ali
5 Oct, 2020
We need to challenge the stereotypes surrounding breast cancer.
That’s the message from Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Coordinator Shamima Ali as the world marks breast cancer awareness month, commonly known as Pinktober.
Ms Ali said there were a lot of stereotypes associated with breast cancer, with sexual stereotypes being the most common.
She said the age-old stereotype that the breasts are the most visible and tangible symbol of femininity is common in many cultures.
“This is not true and results in breast cancer patients fearing diminished femininity and rejection, which may induce psychological problems,” Ms Ali said.
“Some men also perceive that having a breast removed would make a woman unfit for sex. This is also not true.
“The decision to surgically remove a breast either to treat or prevent cancer should never be taken lightly. And, in our breast-obsessed culture, for many women this medical decision is further complicated by societal pressures and norms.
“The fact that someone has breast cancer is more of a taboo topic and an embarrassing discussion in many families.”
This month, Ms Ali said everyone should focus on challenging the stereotypes and stigmatisation associated with breast cancer and giving survivors a space in society to share their stories.
While limited resources and medical costs remain as the biggest deterrents for cancer treatments, early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.
“When breast cancer is detected early, and if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured.
“If detected late, however, curative treatment is often no longer an option. In such cases, palliative care to relieve the suffering of patients and their families is needed.”
Ms Ali said education was also vital in the fight against breast cancer.
“While most people are aware that breast cancer exists, there’s still much that can be done to inform people about the disease. Educating yourself and those in your community is an important part of breast cancer awareness.
“There’s a lot of misinformation about breast cancer and common knowledge about breast cancer that isn’t actually accurate.
“Having the wrong information, or not having the information at all, can stand in the way of women receiving the care that they need.”
She urged women to stay informed and seek out accurate information about breast cancer.
As a survivor of colon and lung cancer herself, Ms Ali said the month is also a great opportunity to start conversations about breast cancer.
She urged healthcare providers to be more encouraging in the words they use for women to come forward for cancer screenings.
Ms Ali also commended the hard work and efforts being put in place by stakeholders and healthcare providers in the fight against breast cancer.
For more information, please contact Shamima Ali on 9992 875