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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Breast Cancer Survivors Speak Out!

The woman’s outburst generated interest. Indeed, few wondered aloud what she was on about. - Then she explained. “I refer to our breasts as one nation since most of us have lost one breast to breast cancer.” The explanation of the woman, who is in her early 50s, triggered another round of jokes. Gathered at the venue were about 35 women – all breast cancer survivors. They were there for their monthly Support Group designed to increase the support network of the people in the group, and also a healthy resource for breast cancer survivors to cope and heal in the recovery process following diagnosis and treatment.
Support programmes. It was during the February support programme put together by Care Organisation Public Enlightenment, C.O.P.E last week in Lagos, that some of the women shared their experiences with Good Health Weekly.   For these women, cancer has opened a new chapter in their lives.

Each woman told her story about cancer. Various questions were asked. How will I overcome the difficulty of undressing in the presence of my husband? One woman asked.
“I no longer enjoy sex.“You should feel free to enjoy sex. Make the best of your time.  Don’t
allow depression to set in because it is the greatest enemy to cancer patients.  If I can get a man to marry me after losing one breast to cancer, you can do it.”  Another responded.
It was significant the women had an understanding.

Della, who lamented the many temptations and challenges she faced recounted: “When you have cancer people will run away. There will be nobody to stand by you.  I did not have a support group to see black people having cancer before I now started DDS Cancer Support Group strictly for black people. Then, I wanted to see how an African survives cancer. It was difficult. “I was the only black person among all the white people.  Since then I have been making noise for the need for support group for people with cancer.” Della who described cancer as a lonely and painful journey added that individuals cannot do it alone. “Sometimes you just want someone to be with you, to talk to, but people don’t understand.  I was so depressed which is the effect of chemo. Cancer is nothing but the treatment of cancer that is the real thing.

“Even after cutting my breast I met someone and we got married. It is the experience of the chemo that kills people.  It is not just the cancer itself.” One thing Della said cancer did for her was that it made her aware of healthy living. “Today I feel good, I am now looking after myself. I am now conscious of myself.  I now exercise. Even one of my sisters in London told me cancer ‘did me good.’ It is like a new chapter in my life. God has given me a second chance; maybe things have gone wrong.  I take life easy.  I don’t stress or shout. I take things easy.  It is a new life and a new beginning,” she stated.


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