Dr Dulcy tackles controversial African myths
Dr Dulcy tackles controversial African myths, old wives’ tales and legend concerning breast cancer, which many espouse to be true.
As a Black female physician who grew up in the township of Temba, in Gauteng, I’ve grown up knowing that Africans have many beliefs. A belief is often deemed to be true in the mind of the believer. It may or may not be based on science, logic, religion, popular culture or emotions. It is espoused to be true, and like these breast cancer myths, can be passed down from one generation to the other.
As a Black female physician who grew up in the township of Temba, in Gauteng, I’ve grown up knowing that Africans have many beliefs. A belief is often deemed to be true in the mind of the believer. It may or may not be based on science, logic, religion, popular culture or emotions. It is espoused to be true, and like these breast cancer myths, can be passed down from one generation to the other. Seeing that it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October 2018), I found it befitting to address the sacred cows that many espouse to be true regarding this condition. From my former work elsewhere and current work as CEO of the U-Care Medical Centre; here are some of the popular myths many swear are true.
Breast cancer only affects women (and gays) Statistics show that while women are more likely than men to develop breast cancer; men can and do get breast cancer.
It’s a disease for old people While your risk of breast cancer increases as you age, both old and young people can get breast cancer.
All cancer, including breast cancer, is a European condition Breast cancer knows no race. It is the most prevalent cancer among White and Asian women and the second most common cancer among Black and Coloured women.
Breast cancer is synonymous with death Breast cancer is often regarded to be a death sentence, and this should not be the case, particularly with early breast cancer detection. Almost 90% of patients survive for years after diagnosis when breast cancer is detected at the early stages.
Cancer is a sign that you’re bewitched! No, there are various risk factors concerning breast cancer, such as genes, gender, age, personal and family history of breast cancer. You need to communicate your feelings and fears with your doctor.
Only the rich can afford cancer treatment While cancer may be somewhat expensive to treat, based on the condition and treatment required; there are somewhat affordable endeavours such as U-Centre Medical Centres that strive to bring quality healthcare to the masses. The government also has treatment measures available to reach all, including the marginalised.
There is this traditional healer in Johannesburg Central or Bushbuckridge who can identify and cure cancer. Regular breast self-examination and mammograms are essential for the early detection of breast cancer. You need to speak to your doctor about what you ingest (including imbizas, African potions) as part of your proposed treatment.
While myths, stereotypes and old wives’ tales can spread like wildfire, make sure that you get your information from a reliable source. When in doubt or you have some questions.
Please consult a doctor or registered healthcare practitioner. For more information on breast cancer, read this article by Dr Dulcy as published in the Citizen newspaper.
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