Hello good people.
Today marks our 2nd year anniversary since i posted the first post American Height.
It has been two years full of fun, learning and sharing.
I wish to thank God and everyone who has been walking with me through this journey.

Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we are living right now.

October being a breast cancer month we dedicate this day to breast cancer awareness.

Some of the greatest pathologists wrote in our reference book, Kumar and Robins textbook of pathology, “The only certain way to avoid cancer is not to be born. To live is to incur the risk.” While this statement makes it seem like a hopeless case, all is not lost. Awareness campaigns, screening, early diagnosis and treatment can help mitigate the catastrophic effects of this modern day ‘plague’. What better way to mark the cancer month than to share information about cancer? And for the purpose of this post, breast cancer. We know information is power, get to know and be empowered.

Breast cancer is among the top cancers affecting women across the globe. In Kenya, it is the leading cancer among women with 34 women in every 100,000 affected. It is closely followed by cervical cancer which affects an approximate of 25 women in every 100,000 women. (Data from Kenya cancer network)
While this cancer mainly affects older women in other parts of the world, in Kenya it has been found to be relatively common among young women. Not to say that men are not affected. Yes, men too have some breast tissue that can be invaded by the cancerous cells. It is actually more aggressive if it occurs in a man.

As with other types of cancer, there are many risk factors associated with it. It can be the familial type where it is associated with gene mutations, mainly BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. This is where you get that the cancer runs in families. We heard of Angelina Jolie who did a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting the cancer. While this is a radical move and somewhat depressing, it can be lifesaving if you are sure you have the mutations. And hey, you can always get the implants ☺

Breast cancer is highly related to estrogen exposure. Women who are on hormone replacement therapy are at increased risk. Same goes to women who started their menses earlier (before 11years) and got to menopause much later. Women who get their 1st pregnancy at an older age (above 35years) also face this risk. Yes yes, getting pregnant in your 20s might be a good idea after-all; you’re at your prime fertility and you decrease the chances of breast cancer ☺. The paradox however is that there’s increased risk of cervical cancer. Dilemma! Which reminds me, breast feeding for long periods has also been shown to be protective against breast cancer.

Eat healthy, avoid alcohol and smoking, and please, for the love of a healthy life, EXERCISE. Haven’t we heard this a million times? Foods high in fats, alcohol and tobacco have been shown to increase your risks. Same goes to obesity. So let’s hit the gym today, okey?

Like I said earlier, screening and early detection is the best shot we have at this. The easiest way is to start with a self-breast exam while at home. Look at your twinnies dear sister. Touch them, you might just discover a lump growing somewhere .Stand in front of your mirror today and examine your breasts. Is the skin smooth as expected, or are we having some dimpling? Does the skin look like an orange peel? This is not normal. Is your nipple pointing out erect as expected? Or is it retracted inwards, crusting and having a discharge? This should also alarm you. Now let’s touch our breasts, shall we? Divide the breast into 4 quadrants and move in a clockwise movement. Make sure you feel each quadrant as you press inwards. Is there a mass? Is it firm? Irregular maybe? Is it fixated to the underlying skin? Any of this should make you want to visit the doctor. You should note that most breast cancer associated lumps are painless in the early stages. At a more advanced stage you might get pain if it has ulcerated. So dear friends, if you elicit any of these signs it is only wise that you go to the nearest health facility for further examination.

Other screening methods that can be done in hospital are breast ultrasound, mammogram, MRI and biopsy which certifies the cells as cancerous or not. For younger ladies, ultrasound is preferred while for older ladies a mammogram is preferred. Mainly because younger girls have denser breasts.

Early detection is not useful if we do not institute early treatment. Treatment options mainly depend on the stage your cancer is in and how much it has spread. Remember that advanced breast cancer can spread to almost any part of the body, which is catastrophic since little can be done at this point (only palliative care). Treatment will either be in the form of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or a combination of these options. This is best discussed with the oncologist so as to customize the treatment option as much as possible.

It is my hope that this sheds some light into the menace that’s breast cancer. Remember to do frequent self-examinations and in case of any worry go to hospital. Annual screening is also recommended. Take advantage of this month where most hospitals are offering free screening.

Don’t keep this information to yourself, pass it on. Stay healthy my people ☺

-Jowie the Doc-

She is thoughtful and a good listener. It's confusing because what you might think passes as thoughtful might actually be her listening, therefore it's hard to know exactly what lurks behind her eyes when she is silently following up on a conversation. She passes as bright effortlessly, and she is able to sniff out nonsense before its baked. Well her nonsense withstanding gradient is rather low and she is passionate about the community. You may say, she is a girl-child advocator, given the kind of projects she is undertaking at Samburu with her NGO, 'fly sister fly' When she is not busy with her books, running the NGO as the president, she loves hanging out with friends and sharing her medical knowledge for a healthy nation. Always enjoys enriching conversations.