It's Good To Talk
In Kenya, breast cancer remains a feared diagnosis that many individuals continue to link automatically with death.
Despite recent and continuing advances in early detection, treatment, and survival, due to high mortality rate in Kenya, a majority of the women believe they are going to die once diagnosed with breast cancer.
This highlights the need for more awareness regarding the symptoms and severity of the disease and importance of early detection.
The majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer are reluctant to talk about it, due to the stigma associated with the disease.
Time for a change
The Mama Melissa Foundation believes it’s about time we 'broke the silence' and ended the silent suffering of female breast cancer survivors, especially in rural Kenya.
That’s why our founder Eila took the initiative to talk freely about her own breast cancer journey, and more importantly, started campaigning for tools which promote early detection of breast cancer, educating women to be more self-aware of their breast (using the “Know Your Lemons” campaign), as well as teaching women how to use tools like breast self-examination (BSE).
She hopes her story will inspire other women, especially in rural Kenya, to share their experiences and end the silent suffering, thereby encouraging increased support for women's health in Kenya.
Being familiar with your own body and noticing any changes in it is one of the best ways to take charge of your health. This is especially true when it comes to your breasts.
Worldwide breast cancer programmes have come up with a great way to illustrate a few ways of noticing breast change and knowing how your breasts look or feel.
Below are illustrations and descriptions from the “Know Your Lemons” campaign that outline 12 changes which may be cause for concern.
"Don't let fear keep you from reporting any changes in your breasts to a health care provider," says Eila Petty (Founder of Mama Melissa Foundation and breast cancer survivor).
"Sharing your concerns can put your mind at ease once you've been reassured that you don't have breast cancer. And if you do have breast cancer, it is not the end of the world. Steps can be taken immediately in finding the appropriate treatment for you.”
Although one in every eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, the earlier it is caught the more easily it is treated and the better the prognosis.
As Eila says: “Be aware of your breasts and an advocate for your health."