Awareness is key in battle against breast cancer in India

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The Bliss Foundation is working to create more awareness about breast cancer in India. (Photo courtesy: Bliss Foundation)
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The Bliss Foundation is working to create more awareness about breast cancer in India. (Photo courtesy: Bliss Foundation)
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The Bliss Foundation is working to create more awareness about breast cancer in India. (Photo courtesy: Bliss Foundation)
Updated 16 October 2017
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Awareness is key in battle against breast cancer in India

NEW DELHI: Meenu Madan calls herself a champion, not a survivor. She says she is 7 years old, not 49. Seven years ago, she was diagnosed with third-stage breast cancer.
“I kept on ignoring the pain in my breast for quite some time. When it became unbearable I went to a gynaecologist, and by the evening my entire world was topsy turvy,” Madan, a customer care executive based in New Delhi, told Arab News.
After treatment — surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — that lasted more than a year, “I got the gift of a new life.”
She added: “One reason I suffered was because I wasn’t conscious of my body. I had no awareness about breast cancer, and this awareness is very important if we want to fight the growing menace of this disease.”
Dr. Geeta Kadayaprath, a leading oncologist in India, told Arab News that there should be “a concerted awareness campaign” in the country about breast cancer.
“The worrisome thing is we’ve seen lots of young women with breast cancer in their late 20s and early 30s,” she said.
“Cases of breast cancer are increasing every year. Last year I saw approximately 350 cases. This year so far, I’ve already seen more than 450.”
The oncologist, who has 20 years of experience treating breast cancer, added: “There are about 140,000 new cases every year, and by 2025 it will be 240,000. The urban population is more affected than the rural.”
Kadayaprath does not subscribe to the popular view that breast cancer is genetic. “Only 10 percent of cases are genetic, and 90 percent are due to other reasons.”
Talking about the southern state of Kerala and the northern city of Bhatinda, she said: “The rising cases of cancer in these places are due to the presence of pesticides in vegetables.”
To create greater awareness about breast cancer, and help sufferers and survivors, two years ago she co-founded the Bliss Foundation. “We need to collaborate with the right kinds of people, like legislators, activists, students and others,” said Kadayaprath.
Madan, who has been part of the NGO since its inception, said: “My association with the Bliss Foundation has changed my life and the lives of so many.”
“Imagine a champion like me visiting a day-care center where cancer patients are being treated. The moment they see me, the expression on their face changes. The gloom goes away. When they see a fit survivor talking to them, it greatly boosts their morale.”
Kadayaprath said: “The Bliss Foundation is an attempt to intervene in the lives of people in a meaningful way, and create a wider platform to spread awareness about breast cancer. Creating medical infrastructure isn’t a solution; creating awareness is the major issue.”
Breast cancer patient Debjani, 46, a schoolteacher in New Delhi, told Arab News: “I live a very healthy lifestyle and used to do regular exercise and eat good food, but still I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s very important to have regular check-ups… Body awareness is important.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 60 percent of women in India are diagnosed with third- or fourth-stage breast cancer, which “drastically affects the survival rate and treatment options.”
Kadayaprath said: “Education is important. We have to make people breast-aware, and train them to examine themselves regularly so if they find something unusual, they can go to a doctor at an early stage and the survival rate is then very high.”


The Six: Get cooking with these Middle Eastern-flavored cookbooks

Updated 16 min 21 sec ago
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The Six: Get cooking with these Middle Eastern-flavored cookbooks

DUBAI: Whether you’re a tried-and-tested chef or a novice cook, try something new in the kitchen with these newly released, Middle Eastern-flavored cookbooks.
‘Together: Our Community Cookbook’
In September, Meghan Markle, Britain’s Duchess of Sussex, lent her backing to this charity cookbook that funds a community project set up by women seeking somewhere to cook in the wake of London’s Grenfell Tower fire.
‘Feasts from the Middle East’
The cookbook was created by Tony Kitous, the founder of successful UK-based Lebanese restaurant chain Comptoir Libanais, and features more than 100 recipes.
‘Baladi’
Joudie Kalla, the author behind “Palestine on a Plate,” is back with more tantalizing Palestinian recipes in the newly released cookbook.
‘The Mezze Cookbook’
From roasted cauliflower and tahini to pomegranate cakes, this book offers more than 135 recipes from across the Middle East.
‘Authentic Egyptian Cooking’
Abou El-Sid, one of Cairo’s most famous restaurants, presents more than 50 of its classic recipes in this treasure trove of a cookbook.
‘Suqar’
Ending on a sweet note, this recipe book, the title of which means sugar in Arabic, offers more than 100 desserts inspired by Middle Eastern classics, including puddings, pastries and everything in-between.