We are the new-age women. We multi-task, lead, support and live fearlessly. But it surprises me as to how little we care about our own health and well-being. One of my best-friends from my post-graduation college days is Krusha. Despite our hectic work schedules, we still try to catch-up for a coffee, hang-out, or even go shopping together on weekends. Professionally she has grown to become a good team-leader and has much bigger career plans after marriage.
When we met up recently she told me that she was worried about breast cancer after looking at a billboard for chemotherapy. What struck her was the advertisement for cancer chemotherapy and the cost for it. On one hand she didn’t like the idea of openly advertising for healthcare treatment – not all people who pass the street should be considered as patients. But the AD also drove in a concern – a concern for her own health. How could she protect herself from breast cancer? Krusha’s second thought is also the very reason for writing this blog. I believe every woman should read and act on it.
For any woman breast cancer can be a concern, especially if it has affected a family member, friends or a colleague. I know of three cases of cancers within my own extended family. Just recently one of our neighbours unfortunately succumbed to oral cancer. Many a time Cancer can be fatal and for survivors it alters lives and relationships significantly.
Genetic counselling – A crucial consideration
When I think of these scenarios, the most advised proverb comes to mind “prevention is better than cure”. Well as they say easier said than done? So how do I prevent cancers? That’s when I started digging up and researching on breast cancer. Now I believe that yes, you can reduce uncertainity by being proactive. Cancer formation takes several years. Many scientific papers say that tumour formation takes about 5-10 years. That’s when visible signs of breast cancer can be felt due to pain or liquid discharge from the breasts. With further reading I found that the risk of breast cancer can be assessed even before the first cancerous cell starts the tumour formation. As the science says, “it’s all in the GENES”.
We are all born with a certain degree of susceptibility to breast cancer and other diseases. Our genetics, family health history, lifestyle, environmental exposure and few other aspects play an important role in building up a risk profile. It’s important to get an assessment that identifies your risk profile and not wait for signs or symptoms to show-up. Cancer survivors and their families can benefit immensely as they can understand possibilities of recurrence of cancer and risk profile of their family members.
For the majority of women and men genetics or genetic testing can be a very new subject. It’s not like making a decision to purchase a new mobile phone, for which everyone will have some suggestions to give you. Genetics is best understood and explained by experts, it can be a complex topic. Based on this I suggested to Krusha that apart from visiting her Doctor, she should also talk to a Genetic Counsellor. With further research online I discovered that truGeny provides genetic counselling. I would like to encourage all women reading this blog, that they and their family members should opt for a genetic counselling session. This will help you understand and plan for breast cancer prevention or even for better management of the disease. The genetic counsellors will help you understand the science of genetics and what the test results may mean for you and your family. Let’s pledge for a proactive approach to health. As new-age women and women of today we have the means, now all we need to do is take charge of our own health and nothing should stop us from doing so.