According to the Canary foundation “The plague of breast cancer has been around for more than a few decades but rather centuries tracing back to 3000 B.C.” this demonstrates how the current prominence of this disease was inevitable as it has been around for so long. I feel as though due to the current spike in prominence of this disease whenever people discuss the topic it comes with such heavy confusion and various connotations–mainly because it has affected various people and isn’t biased towards race, gender, or age. Most individuals are not aware of most of the factors that go into disease such as cancer including the medical definition, diagnosis, signs & symptoms, treatments, and prognosis.
Breast cancer in the public sense is defined as a disease in the breast where cells grow uncontrollably that is easily spread to other areas through lymph and blood vessels. In addition to this overly simplified understanding of what Breast cancer is; the information provided to the public about the diagnosis includes the general tests performed such as a breast exam, mammogram, biopsy, ultrasound, MRI after this the doctor needs to determine what stage cancer the patient has, to subsequently develop a prognosis. Conversely, medically speaking an Oncologist is the specified doctor for cancer patients and they generally describe cancer as a highly heterogeneous disease that has the ability to invade surrounding tissues and to successfully establish metastatic deposits in distant organs called malignant growth making cancer extremely lethal.
Moreover, in regards to diagnosis of Breast cancer Oncologists came to the realization that “regardless of the extent or radicality of the surgical resection the probability of cure was still inversely proportional to the initial stage of the malignancy, based mostly on tumor size and the extent of regional lymph node involvement”(Bonadonna, Hortobagyi, & Valagussa 215). Due to the aforementioned, diagnosis of the disease is constantly developing which increases the risk factor as they are often experimental some consist of the primary systemic chemotherapy which includes high doses of chemotherapy and the most recent one is new antimetabolites such as oral fluoropyrimidines as the traditional medicines are not effective in more advanced stages of Breast cancer.
With my own personal experience with Breast cancer it seemed as though Oncologists and doctors in general are only looking for a payday as a large majority of survivors are economically inclined. In my family we describe Breast cancer as an invasive disease, that similarly in the body, spreads to aspects of the ill’s life that in turn alters personalities. Contrary to what medical professions describe as new more successful treatments based on the resources at my disposable Breast cancer stage II is not the earliest stage to be notified as it makes it less likely that an individual will survive and even make it to the remission stage. While gender does play a role in Breast cancer; It is a common misconception that men are not able to be diagnosed with Breast cancer.
Breast cancer is a disease that affects mainly women and is due to various elements of an individual’s life. Based on “Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Breast Cancer” by Wendy Y. Chen & Andrew Wardley discussed how “the single most common risk factor for the development of Breast cancer in women [is age]”(Chen 21). In respects to the medical point of view the causes of Breast cancer are ongoing but some major studies state that the causes include environmental factors, genetics, age, exposure to radiation, time frame of when the individuals first period occurred, obesity, alcoholism, and postmenopausal hormone therapy etc. In general the public views on Breast cancer as a disease is that it is dangerous although most individuals are not sure of the causes; there are various superstitious attempts to start the conversation of this diseases etiology some examples include but are not limited to having computers on your body while in use others say standing too closely to microwaves also increases the risk of Breast cancer. Others believe that this disease only affects those that have inherited it from a family member.
In the most personal and respective way the best way to understand the etiology of Breast cancer is to experience it for yourself or have a relative experience it; otherwise it seems almost nonexistent or like a mythical disease that everyone is internally afraid of but no one directly speaks about. Simply put by my mother “ It is something that does not become of relevance until it happens to you personally” (Duncan). In my personal experience with my grandmother’s stage 2 Breast cancer I realized that it was in my best interest to find out whether or not this disease was hereditary for me or not. While researching and analyzing my family tree I had no hereditary factors to worry about but I noticed that the disease is most common among Jamaican women and that this cancer is the most prevalent in new cases with a enormous “25.3% of new cancer cases being in women were Breast cancer” based on 2018 studies of The International Agency for Research on Cancer supported by the World Health Organization. Not to mention, they IARC demonstrated that apart from Prostate cancer Breast cancer is the second most predominant cancer on the island which might explain the risk factors that my grandma was exposed to based on her origins.
Based on the research conducted and the sources reviewed stage 2 Breast cancer from a public perspective has an abundant variance of signs and symptoms including a mass/lump, swelling of breast, skin irritation, nipple pain and or discharge; Surprisingly the public is more aware of Breast than expected which is mainly due to its prominence. These signs and symptoms are more common knowledge than say ¨skin thickening and erythema of the breast (signs of inflammatory breast)… multiple nodular tumour masses¨ which are more medical views of the Breast cancer staging symptoms process(Chen 26-27). Moreover, the medical views of the prognosis of Breast cancer varies depending on if the cancer is localized or spreading intensively.
In my personal experience, my grandmother and her journey through cancer up until her death was exhausting mainly because the quality of each day depended on what medications were troublesome at that day whether it be her radiation or the chemo or any immune system building medications. With her deteriorating immune system it was way more likely that she would die of something simple or common such as the cold which made it difficult for her to enjoy the rest of her life with the little she could do especially being as weak as she was.
With fatal and incurable illnesses such as Breast cancer treatments vary based on risk factors, expenses, and how experimental a treatment is. For example, in the medical field cancer is an expensive disease that to this day is still being studied in order to find the most effective treatments to promote the longest life expectancy. Due to the fact that treatments are still being discovered and even the disease itself is still under heavy research and analysis most of the current survivors in remission will have to prepare for the cancer to resurface; with this in mind oncologist and doctors are prepared for the original treatment not to be effective the second time.
To be more precise, the most current treatment options for Breast cancer includes new antimetabolites like “Eniluracil (a drug that inhibits dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase) and Gemcitabine ” as opposed to the more traditional treatments such as “radical mastectomy, breast conserving therapies”, high dose chemotherapy and radiation (306-307 Bonadonna). The chemotherapy previously listed differentiates heavily from the “primary subsequent systemic therapy” as it is intended to have other therapies in addition to it (178 Bonadonna). In the public’s point of view or common knowledge the options for Breast cancer consists of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy as they are not aware of the intricacies of the disease most citizens are only aware that it can happen to anyone but it does not become of relevance until you somehow personally experience it. The public is not even aware that treatment is dependent on the size and advancement of the cancer similarly to how before my grandmother’s experience with it I knew basically nothing except to stay away from unnecessary radiation from objects such as microwaves and computers.
In my own experience with my family it seemed almost as though the medical system completely failed us because my grandmother was “one of those people that never missed a check up” yet they did not find her tumor until it was stage 2 which inturn decreased her survival rate and then in terms of treatments we watched her go through 3 terms of chemotherapy and radiation which completely destroyed her immune system (Duncan). Due to the fact that she was immunocompromised in addition to the persistent treatments to keep the cancer as localized as possible. The treatments made my grandma very weak which forced her to be bedridden this required her to need a lot of assistance with activities of daily living. One thing that became more and more evident over time was the need for money and how much that affects the care someone is able to receive.
To conclude, my experience with a close relative suffering from Breast cancer is the driving factor that essentially ‘opened my eyes’ but more importantly showed me the concerning aspects for my own health not to mention that other life-or-death diseases run in my family. This disease although it has taken someone I care dearly for it is the main reason I felt the healthcare system needed me to change how certain things are taken care of especially regarding financial situations.
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