In commemoration with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Faculty and Staff of the Nursing Department at the University of Belize, hosted an awareness forum under the theme “I Support.” Shadel Dyer-Young attended the forum and filed this special.
Shadel Dyer-Young: “Research conducted by the World Health Organization indicates that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, making breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in women. And although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year. In Belize, an illness that was once considered fallen, is today, a reality creeping in the homes of families across the nation. And so, in the spirit of creating consciousness, Belize has joined the world in recognizing the month of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with ribbon’s ornament buildings and dress attires while awareness programs are scheduled countrywide. The University of Belize hosted one such forum under the theme, “I Support”. They may be two words but they speak volumes to women and men by doing breast cancer. Yolanda August may appear to be your everyday woman, but she has a unique story to tell, one that got her in two of her knees in prayer and subsequently in thanksgiving.
Yolanda August’ testimony: “The doctor called me in and said, “Everything is good, your blood is good, your x-ray good”, my heart, I got an enlarged heart, e say, a little bit enlarged, e say, “…but…don’t worry about that”. I say, “But about the result of the biopsy?” He said, “That is in contusive”. I said, “What is that?” E say, “Well, we are not sure”. Well, ah got a little bit scared, but I said, Lord, I put it in your hands, you will deal with it. He said, if it is cancer, we will remove a breast, and the second…the 3rd of May I was cut. When I woke up the evening and I did like this, there was no breast. I said, oh Lord, it’s breast cancer! I had to take chemotherapy. The doctor said I had to take six sessions of chemo’. Well, the first session almost killed me! I vomited like almost two weeks. Well, after the chemo…the fourth chemo, the doctor said, “You need to get radiation”. And, praise God, now, I m going only once a year to see the doctor, well, I have to do the full test before I go back, and that’s it…seven years now and free up to now, thank God.
Shadel Dyer-Young: : “The forum’s guest speaker was registered nurse, Laura Longsworth representing the Belize Cancer Society, initiated the presentation with an overview of breast cancer:
Nurse Laura Longsworth: “The issue related cancer has to do with a lot of things that happen globally. A lot of it has to do with lifestyle, but we need to understand that cancer is multi-factorial, especially breast cancer…it’s a number of things. We can have genetic tendencies, we can, I mean, we could have been exposed or it happens for no reason at all; we’re influenced by hormonal changes, and so you are at risk for progress cancer if your risk goes up; it doesn’t mean you’ll get it, but if you have…you’re circulating hormones, for instance, if you have an early period, if you don’t have a child until late or you never have one, you have really high levels of certain kinds of hormones that really lengths itself to the development and influencing the development of breast cancer”.
Shadel Dyer-Young: “And when should a person start to give attention to their breast, Longsworth says, “it’s never too early”.
Nurse Laura Longsworth: “When do you start to check your breast? You can start to check your breast anytime. More importantly, you establish a system…a monthly system of going in your shower and making sure you do the right breast exam. Please remember that when you do your exam, don’t move your hand off your breast; you keep it going so that you don’t miss any part of your breast at all, and you go around in a circle. But don’t forget that under your arm is breast tissue as well. And lots of us don’t recognize that, breast tissue is there, right? And sometimes we don’t realize it until we feel something here, which is a little bit of a problem. Please remember: take charge of your breast.
Shadel Dyer-Young: “The best protection is early detection and with an advancement in Belize’s medical service, cancer patients are provided affordable and adequate health care.
Nurse Laura Longsworth: “If there is a lump discovered, there is every opportunity for early diagnosis. We have mammograms, we have ultrasounds, and we can do biopsies. And when we are talking about biopsies, biopsies can be done in the public sector, so, you don’t have to worry about finding $2,000 or $3,000 for…to get a biopsy done…and yes, you can actually, if you’re having a problem, contact…or anybody that you know, is having a problem, contact us at the Cancer Society. We are courted many courtesies by the Ministry of Health and also by the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. It’s important for us to know that any cancer prevention and control has to do with understanding that we can be empowered. You have to be hopeful.
Shadel Dyer-Young: “And —-said I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains”.