Letters to the Editor

Cancer patients need much support

Tuesday, April 05, 2011    

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Dear Editor,

Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer in women and the second most common cause of cancer death in women. It is now believed that genetic or hormonal factors, or both are the primary risk factors for breast cancer. Treatment options for breast cancer may involve surgery (removal of the cancer alone or, in some cases, mastectomy), radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and/or chemotherapy.

When a woman learns that she has breast cancer, it can change her life and the lives of those close to her. These changes can be hard to handle. Therefore, it's normal for you, your family, and your friends to need help coping with the feelings that such a diagnosis can bring.

A friend of mine informed me of her experience when she was diagnosed with the illness. She discovered that she had breast cancer some time in 2005, and subsequently underwent the operation to remove the affected breast. However, she said she was mistreated by her husband shortly afterwards because of the loss of one breast. She was eventually bullied to leave the matrimonial home by the husband who had asked her to leave so that he could get on with his life.

After going through all that trauma of the diagnosis and subsequent removal of her breast, she should have got support from her husband, instead of rejection. She went through hell with the rejection during her time of need and it caused her to be depressed. It is very important to note that when a woman has undergone a mastectomy, the trauma of losing a breast can be paramount. It is very important for both partners to acknowledge and support each other through the loss while understanding that there will be challenges.

I have heard of women who, after diagnosis, refuse to do mastectomy because they fear that their spouse will walk out on them. The support of the family is also very crucial. Family members and friends should always be at their side, helping them to understand the many details that accompany a cancer diagnosis. I know of a woman who gave up the battle because of a broken heart. She was not supported throughout her unfortunate ordeal and I believe she lost the will to fight.

It is said that like all major hurdles in life this disease can bring families closer together and make marriages stronger. It can also wreck relationships and hurtle seemingly solid couples on to the rocks. There are sufferers who will talk openly about their disease and treatment while others prefer to avoid the subject whenever possible.

If there is a breast cancer support group or organisation in Jamaica, I really am not aware. If there is such a group(s), then I think they need to seek out these sufferers more often, and offer them the much-needed moral fortitude.

Neville Beckford





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