According to WHO statistics, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world. Every year more than 2.6 million people fall ill with it. Despite this, it is still not customary to discuss cancer openly; besides, we do not know how to correctly support a loved one who has had an accident.
Fear and inability to speak are the main advocates of cancer
Breast cancer is a disease that can be diagnosed in both men and women. However, this type of cancer is commonly thought of as female: men account for about 0.5-1% of all breast cancer cases, with one in twelve women being diagnosed with the disease.
Breast Cancer Awareness Day was celebrated around the world on October 15. In honor of the day, VK used their research platform to examine public attitudes towards the problem.
It turned out that 91% of Russians are aware of the disease, but every third woman over 40 years of age is not screened regularly, and more than half of men do not discuss the diagnosis with their female relatives.
Medical evidence suggests that breast cancer detected at an early stage is 98% curable. It is very important for women to know their family history so they can be screened in good time and reduce their risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage.
According to the survey, only 15% of women at risk know their family history of breast cancer. At the same time among the respondents whose relatives have experienced the disease more than half (53%). This is why it is important to talk to the family about early diagnosis of the disease.
We do not discuss the problem and do not know how to talk
Among respondents whose female relatives have experienced breast cancer, 41% have discussed the disease with them, but more than half of the men interviewed for the VK study (56%) do not discuss breast cancer with their female relatives. 42% did not do so because the latter did not want to talk about it themselves. 30% did not know how to help and were afraid to hurt a loved one. 19% considered the disease a private matter of the person who encountered it and did not consider it a topic for discussion.
Friends and acquaintances who have experienced breast cancer are talked about the disease almost as often as relatives - in 43% of cases. As for the reasons why respondents did not talk to a friend or acquaintance about her disease, the first place is the belief that it is her personal business (35%).
Every third respondent did not know how to help and was afraid to hurt her feelings, and every fourth respondent (26%) did not want to discuss her diagnosis herself. And 12% admitted that they were simply afraid to find out details.
Help her not feel lonely. Offer to go together for a checkup or babysit while she is at the doctor's office.
Help her overcome her fear.
You can gently say, "It's okay to be afraid. Let's think together about what I can do to help you so you're not so scared."
Stop phrases to avoid
Many words that seem supportive can actually hurt. We cite a few of them here:
"Have you thought about the examination?"
Such questions, especially if asked frequently, are perceived as pressure and only increase anxiety.
"You might get sick!"
Intimidation and threats only cause more fear and cause the person to want to shut down even more from the problem.
"Don't be afraid, you'll be fine."
General words of encouragement can be perceived as devaluing her feelings. Don't promise what you can't promise.
Don't be afraid to talk about it.
Any woman is at risk for breast cancer, and the risk increases with age. But there is some good news. First, if the disease is detected in the first stage, the recovery rate is 98%, and in the second stage - 93%. Second, a healthy lifestyle and regular checkups can reduce the number of cases by 40%.
The main supporter of cancer is our fear and inability to talk to our loved ones and ourselves about the problem.
It is not easy to change the situation, but you can start with yourself: discuss the diagnosis with your mother, wife or lover, tell them that check-ups literally save lives, and that if the disease is detected at an early stage, 98% of women are cured.