by Dr. Donald Babu
When I was a grade-schooler, I asked my mom how she could have liked my dad and agreed to marry him just by looking at a passport size photo. She was prompt enough to tell me, ‘When I was pregnant, wasn’t I in love with you, without even meeting you..!’
Just when you think you have deciphered ‘Love’, something little comes along to remind you just how big it really is.
A Mother prepares herself for nine months to fall in love for a lifetime. A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll thinner, clothes shabbier but… a home happier, past forgotten, and the future worth living for. More so, don’t husbands undergo a transformation? Boys become men; their ego takes a back seat. Fatherhood kicks in – not because you have kids, but the ‘Man’ you become because of your kids.
Why shouldn’t this happiness come as a universal package? Why should some women suffer when some avoidable circumstances, like cancer, rob them of these precious moments? As a Cancer surgeon [although Preventive Oncologist is what I would like to call myself], I believe that empowering women with knowledge of cancer is paramount.
Indian culture is complex and convoluted. People have extremely varied sense and sensibilities. Women are often inquisitive, men ignorant and their extended family members grounded by rules. This, compounded with vastly differing intellects, fears, language barriers and body perceptions makes my field extremely unique and challenging. So how does one get past it?
I firmly believe treatment begins with prevention and that in turn stems from well-grounded facts. That the best time to educate a woman on these facts is during her pregnancy.
Top reasons why pregnancy is the best time to educate women about cancer:
- The period of pregnancy is when Indian women, rich or poor, turn wholeheartedly towards medical care.
- They pledge towards discipline, good health and spirited follow-ups – not for themselves, but for the well-being of their babies.
So, for healthcare practitioners, this is the sacred time to talk to these receptive women about cancer:
- Its immediate and late effects on the body,
- preventive strategies and
- screening programs.
This would prime them about the dos and don’ts on cancer thus have them on their toes. Each follow up with the clinician should be considered as a chance for a ‘booster dose’.
Did you know Breast and Cervical Cancers are the leading causes of cancer in Indian women?
Cervical cancer hits women at the age of 20-40 and Breast cancer between 40-60, but Indian women develop these cancers at an earlier age. The good news is, both are preventable and 100% curable if picked up at an earlier age.
Dr. Donald Babu is a Cancer surgeon [although Preventive Oncologist is what he likes to call himself] practicing at Navi Mumbai. His passion is empowering women with the knowledge of cancer, dispelling myths, fielding questions and framing health policies.
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