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Breast cancer needs open talk and early care

Meenal Dewakar
Auckland, April 25, 2023

I was very close to my first cousin Priti.

One day she called me to say that she has a lump in her breast.

Trying not to think anything negative, I told her to get a biopsy done.

Her result showed that she had breast cancer.

The news hit me like a knife was stabbed my heart. I kept myself calm. We got the treatment started. Going through chemo was tough but Priti was a fighter.

She fought the battle through chemo and a double mastectomy.

The mastectomy healed. We were all relieved and thought the worst was over only to find out that cancer relapsed and doctors informed us it has spread and suggested palliative care.

Our family did not want to give up. We collected funds and sent Priti to India for medical treatment.

She was a single mother of two beautiful daughters. Both of them call me Mom.

I totally closed myself and stopped talking about my cousin.

I would not discuss her with anyone because I could not do so.

Priti would have turned 36 years on April 17, 2023.

I believe that I am now ready to share my story and talk about her hence Pink Ribbon Breakfast is a great opportunity. This is my tribute to my cousin who was more than a sister to me.

I am from Fiji and I have noticed that in my community, some women are hesitant to talk about cancer; hence I strongly believe that we must awareness.

They should know how to examine themselves for breast cancer at home.

They should not be hesitant or shy when they find any abnormalities.

Meenal Dewakar works at Health New Zealand (Ko Awatea) and as a part-time Invigilator (ILETS) at the University of Auckland. The above article was sent to us by the Breast Cancer Foundation of New Zealand

About Pink Ribbon Breakfast

The following article is from Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand:

Pink Ribbon Breakfast is the largest annual fundraising campaign of the Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand. Every May, thousands of Kiwis come together with their friends, families and workmates to host events to raise much-needed funds for the Foundation.

As a charity that does not receive any government funding, Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand relies on the generosity of New Zealanders to be able to work towards its vision of zero deaths from breast cancer.

The money raised from every Pink Ribbon Breakfast goes towards supporting patients, ground-breaking research, and education campaigns to promote the importance of early detection.

For the first time this year, Pink Ribbon Breakfast Day will be held on May 25.

We are encouraging people to host their events on this day, but they can choose any day in May.

People can host however and wherever they like, whether it is a big breakfast in a community hall, morning tea at work or a canapés evening at home. Every Pink Ribbon Breakfast makes a difference.

With one in nine Kiwi women diagnosed with breast cancer, all of us have someone in our lives affected. Host a Pink Ribbon Breakfast for them this May.

Please register at www.pinkribbonbreakfast.co.nz

About breast cancer in New Zealand

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for Kiwi women and the third most common cancer overall. More than 3500 women across the country are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. That is nine women a day: one of them will be Māori and one of them will be under the age of 45.

Every year, 25 men are also diagnosed with breast cancer in New Zealand.

We lose more than 650 Kiwi women a year to breast cancer. Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for women under 65. It is less common In younger women but tends to be more aggressive. Of the 3500 women diagnosed every year, nearly 400 are under 45.

Wāhine Māori are 35% more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer and 33% more likely to die.  Pasifika women are 20% more likely to be diagnosed and 52% more likely to die.

The 10-year survival rate, if breast cancer is detected by a mammogram is 95%, but this falls to 85% if a woman finds a lump.

Early detection is the best way to beat breast cancer. When tumours are small and are not spread, they are easier to treat, increasing the rate of survival.

Awareness can save lives

Know your normal – get to know the normal look and feel of your breasts. Check your breasts regularly. If you notice any unusual changes, get them checked out by your doctor straight away.

If you are in the 45-69 age group, seek the free mammogram service provided by BreastScreen Aotearoa every two years.

People aged between 40 and 49 should consider a mammogram every year.

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