It is very hard for women to live with breast cancer. It can happen at any time.
Here is an extract from my book 7 Wonders of Olive oil
Slim, attractive forty-year-old Joanna answered with a smile when she heard her name called; it was her turn to go to the X-ray room. She had come for her yearly checkup at the busy Symptomatic Breast Clinic. Breast technologists have learned how to be discreet in their work; they know how vital it is to be sensitive to the anxiety of their patients when they come for their follow-up mammogram.
It was not easy, though, to be discreet with Joanna. As she took her shirt off, you had to look, admire, and take in the stunning work of art running up the right side of her chest. Starting from her slim waist and going up to where her breast should have been was a truly magnificent tattoo: a rose shrub with vibrant green leaves, ending at the top with a magnificent pink rose. It replaced the breast Joanna once had.
Following my gaze, she explained: “Trees are a symbol of life; this tattoo is sacred to me. After my mastectomy, I needed something to remind me that life must go on. This tattoo is
what helps me not to be fearful of the future.”
The young patient had been diagnosed with breast cancer three years before. No one in her family had had breast cancer, yet she could not ignore the lump in her breast; it seemed to be getting bigger every day. She eventually saw her general practitioner, who referred her to a diagnostic breast unit.
She then had to see a surgeon. After she’d had the tests, the surgeon gave her the bad news. He told her, “You have a choice: you can have either a mastectomy or a wide local excision.” Then he explained the difference.
A mastectomy would remove her entire breast; a wide local excision would remove the cancer and some of the normal tissue around it, “but the cancer could come back,” he warned.
Joanna explained why she made the decision to have a mastectomy. “The choice sounded drastic at the time, but I did not want to leave any doubts. I could not afford to. I had to think of my family; the kids were still young.” Shockingly early to be diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer,
Joanna admits she had to face many challenges—the most important, she confesses, was fear. Women with breast cancer who are being treated, even those that have successfully been treated, all say the same thing—they are always haunted by fear and trepidation. They fear that the cancer will come back. The medical term for this is a “recurrence,” and it can happen five, ten, or even fifteen years after the necessary therapy.
The treatment itself to remove or destroy the cancer is stressful whether it is done through surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy; they all leave changes to the body, as well as visible scars that make women feel uncomfortable with themselves.
There’s no one single reason women get breast cancer, but it seems that several factors can contribute: genes, lifestyle, environment, and hormones are the chief risk factors, and any combination can trigger the disease.
Women over fifty are more likely to have breast cancer; that is why some countries have a breast cancer program for older women. These screening programs allow women to have mammograms— breast X-rays—either every two or three years (depending on the country) as well as free health treatment if they are diagnosed with the disease. Some women can inherit abnormal genes, which mean that their risk of developing breast cancer is much higher than someone who does not have those genes.