DEALING WITH THE STIGMA OF BREAST CANCER

Cancer is one disease nobody prays to have. Unfortunately, women are being diagnosed with this ailment every day by day and worse still, it comes with a lot of stigma. Sometimes, the stigma is self inflicted!

Self-inflicted stigma from breast cancer comes with you isolating yourself from family members and friends, Low self esteem, anxiety and unnecessary guilt.

Other forms of stigmatization one with breast cancer may face include:

Stigma of Mastectomy. A lot of women do not want to be seen as less than women with one breast or no breast at all, therefore they decide to deal with the disease. Other times, their husbands desert them and even if they don’t leave the marriage, the woman’s role automatically changes from ‘wife’ to ‘guest’ or mere ‘tenant’. Some women worry about the cosmetic part of it! For real?!…a diseased breast!

Stigma of Unemployment. A lot of people keep the knowledge of the disease from their co-workers for fear of being laid off from work or labelled as ‘unproductive’ and then ‘packed’ to one side. Some of these people are bread winners of their homes!

Stigma of being seen as ‘Infectious’ or ‘Contagious’. Cancer of the breast cannot be got from contact or association with someone who has it.

Stigma from the Cancer Treatment. Cancer Treatment can be that bad. It can make you look like you are suffering from another ailment other than cancer itself. So people start to quietly dissociate themselves from you.

Stigma of a Familial cause. Most times when Cancer of the breast runs in the family and members have died, it is assumed to ‘spoil’ the chances of other unmarried and unaffected female members.

Because of all these negative beliefs, attitudes and behaviours of the society, people may be reluctant to admit that they have cancer. These may further increase and perpetuate the stigma.

The only way out of dealing with this stigma and preventing it completely is through increased awareness and knowledge of the disease, as well as, screening for early detection and screening.

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