I pledge to do things differently By Wanjiru Githuka

Oxford English dictionary defines a pledge as a solemn promise or undertaking. I also see it as a vow you make with deep sincerity. Ideally you should keep the pledge you make no matter what.

Pledges have become part of life. When you become a member of many of the movements around, you almost always have to make a pledge. As a member of the Scout movement, Girl Guide and Mothers Union among others, you are expected to make certain pledges which you should swear to. When I was graduating from my Mothers Union class, I recall that we were told that we should not say the pledges for the sake of it. Rather, we should mean them, live by them and apply them into our daily lives. That is how serious a pledge is.

Every New Year most of us make some resolutions and pledge to stick to them never mind that by the first month majority break them. I am a culprit too. Many are the times that I make pledges but I break them. Having learnt over the years that I shape my own destiny, this year am swearing to 5 pledges and I hope that you can join me. But just like I was told by my spiritual teacher during my Mothers Union classes, please make, mean and keep them.

Pledge number 1: I pledge to eat healthy:
My family and friends think that am a fanatic. My children always tell me that I cannot be used as a measure of determining whether something is sweet or not since my taste buds are weird. My son even goes further to tell me that “mum almost all things have carcinogens. What are we going to eat or drink then?” Well, that is a story for another day.

Honestly I do not have any apologies for my diet. If I know that something is good for my health, I will eat it and gladly so no matter how bad it tastes. In my view, it is not the taste that is important but rather the contribution of an item to my health. I will add spirulina to my bowl of porridge, I will take my moringa tea; and I will also take my neem and stinging nettle tea… Yeah, it sounds disgusting but these are some of the super green foods… I advise you to try it, you will thank me later. Your health will thank you too.

This year I pledge to eat a lot of vegetable and fruits. About 2/3 of my meals will comprise of that. I will eat more of “alive” foods than “dead” foods. “Alive” foods are those that are as close to their natural state as possible. “Dead” foods on the other hand consist of the processed, packaged and artificially colored foods. What are you eating? Is your plate full of “dead” food? These foods will offer you very little nutritionally. When you go shopping, please start reading food labels. If an ingredient is not recognized as a food that is as close to its natural state as possible—think twice before consuming it.
I pledge to have at least 90% of my diet as “alive” foods. I pledge to avoid eating packaged food.

Pledge Number 2: I pledge to exercise regularly:
This is a tough one for most of us. We always get all sorts of excuses… We say we do not have time…. But do you know even a brisk 30 minutes walk every day is good exercise for you? I also advice people to get a skipping rope. A rope is also very good and you get to exercise most parts of your body.

Pledge number 3: I pledge to go for annual health evaluation:
I discussed this in my last blog post so I will not dwell on it now. But I hope that you have planned for it this year.

Pledge Number 4: Laugh often and have a positive attitude towards life:
Simple as it sounds, laughter is one of the best medicines. I have a high sense of humor and sometimes I see humor where others don’t. While they are looking at me strangely and wondering what is funny, my ribs are literally cracking and my eyes are full of tears of joy. It is a nice feeling… I enjoy a good laugh. This year, I will laugh heartily more often, I will look at life very positively.

Pledge Number 5: Have a closer spiritual relationship with God:
We all believe in some higher being. As a Christian, I believe there is a God and I pledge to have a better relationship with Him this year. I will read and study the bible more deeply, meditate on the word of God, create some quality time to pray and to praise God everyday. You will be amazed at how deep the bible is. It is the greatest motivational book you will ever read. Out of 24 hours in a day, I will have an appointed time with God. I will start my day with Him, I will end my day with Him. I will find time in between my busy schedule to spend time with God. I will sing some Christian songs, praise and worship God as I walk, shower and while performing other chores.

Friend, let us start this journey together and let me know how you are doing.


Just how prepared are you? By Wanjiru Githuka

I am a proponent of health checks- annual if possible; and so you can imagine my excitement when I met this couple at the airport as they were headed to India for annual health evaluations. I was excited because one they knew it was important to do it and two they were going all the way to India to have it done. I struck a conversation with the madam and got interested to know what motivated them to go India. She informed me that a friend of theirs was going to India for health checks too and they decided to join her. “Was that reason enough?” I asked myself. But whatever the reason, it was good that they were doing it.

This got me thinking about just how prepared are we when we go for health checks (that is if we do)? Do we perceive health checks as a looming shadow of death? Do we ever imagine that anything could be wrong, that we could be diagnosed with anything or are we positive enough that all will be well? Are we really prepared to receive any news that actually the prognosis would be different from what we are expecting? How prepared are we psychologically, financially and even spiritually when we feel that our faith is being tested and we start questioning God, why? Think about it…..

For those who have had cancer, regular evaluations are the norm. Once you are done with your treatment you are advised to see your oncologist every so often- could be monthly quarterly, bi-annually or annually depending on many factors. Some of the factors that determine the frequency of the visits to the doctor include: when you finished your treatment, kind of cancer, stage and grade you had and how you have been faring over time. As you see the doctor you are expected to undergo certain tests like full blood count, tumor markers, liver and kidney functions. Bi-annually, you may be required to have cardiac evaluations especially if you have used certain drugs such as herceptin which could affect your heart. Annual evaluations may include pet scans, mammogram, pap smear amongst many others.

Overall, while health checks are good, for some people they can be suicidal if not handled well. Before they are given the report that a certain test is positive they are okay and in “good” health. The moment they are told that their tests are positive for something they get even more sick? I may not be a psychologist but I believe that the psychology of a person plays a role. It is a lot to take in. For many people, health checks are a moment of great anxiety because deep down they know that they could be told anything. But should that mean that one should not go for these checks? No. It actually means that no matter what, you have to be brave and keep going. Like I have said previously, early detection gives you a better chance. The bottom line is that whether you are a cancer survivor or not, health checks are critical. I know people who have very good medical covers which allow for annual check-ups but they have never utilized them. If you are one of them, please make use of that package. It is for your own good.

As you go for the health checks, my key message for you is to be prepared in all ways. Accept the harsh reality that the results could go either way. Nonetheless, be positive and have hope that the results will be good. Go there with a positive mind that the health checks are going to confirm what you know- that you are well and every fibre in your body is 100% okay. Personally I have chosen to adapt this kind of attitude when I go for my evaluations.

Secondly if you do not have a medical cover, please ensure that you have one which will allow you have access to treatment in case you have to deal with anything. NHIF is a good starting point. Always have some little cash for emergencies as sometimes you may require urgent medical attention which requires you to have money. Have the will to walk the journey, whichever way it will be. I want to encourage you to please live positively in the event that there is a positive prognosis. A positive attitude is very therapeutic and one which will contribute to quick recovery. Be on a “fight” and not “give up” mode. Vow not to crumble no matter. Embrace the scout movement motto….“be prepared” as you next plan to go for a health check.

A week later I talked to the lady I met at the airport and asked her, “did you ever think that the tests would be negative? “. After a long pause, she confidently told me, “no. I was sure that all was well”.

Stop stigmatization of cancer patients, by Wanjiru Githuka

The other day, I was travelling in a bus and for the next thirty minutes of my ride, I overheard two gentlemen who were speaking loudly and discussing a certain woman who was the landlady to one of them and who had succumbed to cancer. They went on to say how rich the woman had been and if it was the case of money providing healing for her, then she would not have died. Her wealth would have healed her. However according to them, she had got the big “C” which in itself is a “death sentence”.

The conversation then moved on to cancer in general. But what struck me most about this conversation was the ignorance expressed by the two on matters cancer. The stigmatization of cancer patients by the two gentlemen was even more shocking. Two statements that they made sum it all up:
“If a member of my family got cancer, I would not sell my land for them to get treatment. After all they would just die and leave us wallowing in poverty”.

“When you get cancer, just know the end is nigh. The only thing you can do is prepare yourself for death. Don’t bother people.”

It made me flash back to when I was sick and was planning for a fundraising having run out of cash due to the expensive treatment I was receiving. One person told me in my face, yes in my face that presidents and millionaires had died from cancer inspite of all the money they had. Why then would I want to bother other people with my fund raising and I was going to die anyway? Being human I was appalled by the insensitive nature of the statement. However, I had no reason to refute their claim on death. I am human, I am a mortal being, we all are, including this person. When our time comes, we will die one day that is the fact of the matter; that is just the way it is destined to be. But I chose not to be angry. I felt really sorry for this person. I made a joke and told this person. …”Am not going anywhere anytime soon. You will probably just leave me”. I keep confessing that I have a long way to go because God is not through with me yet. The dream that He has put in my heart has to be borne.

A good friend who was economically disadvantaged got cancer. As she struggled to fight the disease, her mother came in and demanded that she be moved from her home in Nairobi (where there are many medical facilities) to upcountry; notwithstanding that her rural home is very far from any medical facility. Her mother ignorantly believed that her daughter was going to die and she was better off closer to where she would be laid to rest. My friend was depressed by the decision. Weak, sick and with no finances, there was little she could do but give in to her mother’s demands. When she got upcountry, she wasted away as her family helplessly watched her and fed her sips of water from a spoon as she could not swallow anything. Another young life was gone too soon. Her death would probably have been avoided if she had received the medical care that she very much needed and deserved.

I could go on and on. These are just some few examples which show how ignorant many people are on matters cancer. If you fall under the categories of people I have discussed above, this blog post is for you. I would like to challenge you to stop stigmatization of cancer patients. Stop thinking that you are immortal and they are the only ones who are mortal. Stop thinking that you are safe from cancer, that you can never get it. Truth be told, we are all candidates for cancer. We all have cancer cells in our bodies. It is just that they behave abnormally in some people and not others.

For the umpteenth time, “cancer is not a death sentence”. Why should we keep on writing off those who have been diagnosed with cancer? Why should we keep on thinking that they are going to die and we who do not have cancer will not die? We have got to stop this. We have to stop thinking that cancer is for them and not us. We are all affected by cancer in one way or another.

Stop telling cancer patients that there is no point of receiving treatment because they will not make it. I know of many survivors including those who have metastatic cancer who have lived many years since their diagnosis. Please stop playing God. Instead encourage them and give them hope. Support them emotionally, physically and more importantly financially. Do anything within your powers to ensure that they receive the treatment that they need. Stigmatization of cancer patients has got to stop. It all starts with you.

No cancer agenda on your manifesto, no vote from me by Wanjiru Githuka

I was excitedly waiting for the reading of the 2017/2018 budget as I had great interest and good reasons too. I knew that from all the advocacy work we had been involved in as cancer survivors last year 2016, the cancer agenda would be highlighted in the budget allocated to the health sector. Alas, there was absolutely nothing standing out. Out of the Kshs 30 billion allocated to the health sector, I did not see anything specific to cancer. And I don’t mean cancer as a miscellaneous somewhere in the health sector budget. I mean cancer standing out with a relatively big budget just like HIV AIDS and malaria. I have nothing against allocation to HIV AIDS and malaria but I do have a problem that I do not see in black and white that Kshs xxx has been allocated to the fight against cancer. In my view, cancer is a national disaster that needs to be top on the agenda and to be addressed by the government, politicians at all levels and by everyone in the country. We need action now.

Now that the budget has been read, I would like to turn the heat on the politicians. Unless, I see the cancer agenda clearly spelt out on parties and individual manifestos, you telling me exactly what you will do for the cancer patients, you will not get my vote. As I speak, I represent the voice of millions of Kenyan men and women who have been affected by cancer either directly or indirectly. Families that have lost their loved ones. Families whose loved ones are ailing and they are helpless- the financial burden is too much. Families that went bankrupt because of cancer treatment for their loved ones. Everyday I get requests from people who need financial help to meet the huge financial burden that they carry from cancer treatment. Everyday we are being invited for fund raising to assist other cancer survivors offset huge bills. WE ARE SAYING, WE ARE TIRED OF FUND RAISING FOR MEDICAL BILLS JUST BECAUSE THE TREATMENT IS PROHIBITIVE AND VERY LITTLE IS BEING DONE BY THE RELEVANT AUTHORITIES.

I represent men and women who travel all the way to Nairobi from hundreds of kilometers to receive the much needed cancer treatment, yet they do not need to do that. I represent the voice of men and women who closed their businesses because they ran out of capital.
“Before I got cancer, I had a thriving business. I had two pieces of land that I wanted to develop”, says Mary (not her real name). When I got sick, I had to close my business. I sold my two pieces of land to meet my medical expenses. Today I have no business; I have no place to call my own. I rely on well wishers to help me…” she says as her voice fades away in tears. Mary is the voice of a cancer survivor. Her narrative is similar to that of many other cancer patients.

We are tired of this happening. We are saying enough is enough. We need something done and done right now. I need to see details of what the government or politicians have planned for cancer. Unless I see this, am sorry I will not give you my vote. You want my vote, do something and do it now. My vote counts.
For starters:
-The cost of cancer treatment has to be brought down
-Hospitals need to be well equipped so that patients do not have to travel long distances seeking for treatment
-NHIF should FULLY cover cancer patients
With about 40,000 new cancer cases annually and 27,000 lives lost yearly as a result of cancer, you will have no one to govern in a few years’ time if nothing is done. You need a healthy population, you’ve got to do something.

We all need someone by Wanjiru Githuka

Best wishes for the year 2017, my dear readers! My sincere apologies, I took a long sabbatical. Thank you all for your love, I have been getting enquiries on what is up with me. I have been well and was looking forward to coming back in the New Year with new developments which have taken longer than I thought. But hey, am back and I will definitely keep you posted as you are part of this journey.

In one of his famous songs, Michael Bolton crooned “….lean on me when you are not strong and I will be your friend, I will help you carry on for it won’t be long till am gonna need somebody to lean on……we all need somebody to lean on….. You can call on me brother when you need a hand…. I just might have a problem that you will understand; we all need somebody to lean on….. If there is a load, you have to bear, That you can’t carry I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load, If you just call me…call me, If you need a friend….call me….”

As you hum or sing this song, for a moment just think about these words and reflect on them. It is amazing how simple they sound but how true they are. Friends are always just a phone call away. They are constantly ready and willing to help- but how little we actually acknowledge to ourselves that we need someone to help us. Sometimes we are heavily engrossed in countless problems and carrying heavy loads, yet the burden would be lessened if we shared with a good friend. A listening ear will always be useful. However, if you are highly independent like me, you would probably feel as if you are bothering people too much by involving them in your issues or in seeking their assistance.

When I discovered I had a lump in my breast, at first I told no one about it and just went to the hospital alone. As they did the various tests including biopsies, I was still alone. My first few visits to the doctor I went alone. One may wonder whether I have no friends or family; but I do and supportive ones at that. My family is always faulting me for being overly independent and just wanting to do things on my own. During my journey, God gave me the strength and I went through many things on my own. Nonetheless, today when I think about it, I totally accept that was the wrong thing to do- not seeking support from my loved ones when I needed them most. I would not encourage someone to go through the cancer journey, or any other for that matter on their own.

From the onset, identify a care giver. It could be your spouse, one of your parents, child, sibling or a friend. This person will help you walk through the journey. As the doctor gives you results from the biopsy confirming that you have cancer, you need someone to be there to hold your hand, give you a comforting hug and a shoulder to cry on. After surgery, the biopsy results are further validated through analysis of the specimen. The results from the histology inform on the grade, stage and whether the cancer is hormonal receptive among others. Most people get into denial when the news of the positive diagnosis is communicated to them. Many of these are advised to see a counselor to help them come to terms with what is happening to them. If you are unable to cope with the news of the diagnosis please see a counselor.

Your oncology will discuss with you the results of the histology and other tests. As the doctor talks, you will hear little else of what he is telling you. It will be like an insect buzzing in your ears. At this stage it is critical to have someone with you. They will be able to capture most of what the doctor is saying and help in asking questions. You could also go through the results in advance so that you may know the kind of questions to ask, for example: what do the results mean, what are the implications, what are the side effects of the proposed treatment plan among others. I would advise you to carry a notebook with you during these hospital visits. Have your questions already written down because if you rely on your memory, sometimes you may forget to ask some. Ensure that you list down the treatment plan in the notebook. It comes in handy even many years down the line. I still refer to my notebook up to date as a follow up to my treatment plan. I am able to anticipate what is coming next, when and then bring it up for discussion during my appointments with the doctor. In this way am always on top of things. Even after you start treatment, please use the same notebook to write down when you undergo major tests and or start on new medication. This also helps you keep track on when a procedure is due.

When going to the hospital for your appointments, seek the company of your caregiver. For instance during chemotherapy, the caregiver will help run around for you. They will follow up on your drugs, your bills and anything else that you may need. This is because you will be tired, sleepy and unable to efficiently do many things for yourself. The care giver will also talk to you those moments when you are not sleeping. I was very blessed that I had my wonderful niece as my caregiver. (God bless her dear heart). She always ran around for me and constantly accompanied me to hospital during chemotherapy. I remember sometimes we could see patients who were all alone. My niece would go out of her way to assist them if they needed something to be done for them as they lay in bed receiving treatment.

If you need other errands to be done for you, reach out to your friends and family. With someone by your side, it makes the journey so much easier. I am still learning to ask, though it is not easy for me. If you are like me and you like doing your thing, I encourage you to learn to ask for help.

Join support groups too. Most areas and hospitals in the country have support groups. I belong to several of these. I am also a member and currently the chairperson of the Cancer Survivors Association of Kenya. This is a national umbrella membership body of all cancer survivors in the country. We have come up with 16 clusters spread across the country based on the geographical localities of our members. One of the things that we are doing as an association is to provide psycho- socio support to our members. You are never alone since there is always someone to encourage you and to walk with you. We also have a WhatsApp platform with all registered members where we share information and encourage each other. Cancer survivors who are experiencing challenges seek advice from the rest of the members. Members empathize with each other. Sharing experiences with people who have walked a similar journey gives you so much strength.
Always remember that a support system is critical on this journey.

Always have a close relationship with God. You will never feel alone.

Note: If you know someone who could benefit from a support group, please get in touch with me and I will link them to one of our clusters.

Believe me, you will get your groove back by Wanjiru Githuka

When you are feeling unwell and go to the hospital they prescribe for you different treatment regime. Could be injection, drugs to take and even surgery depending on what the problem is. All treatments have side effects and some of it can be serious. Cancer has its own treatment which like most others has side effects too. Conventional prescription for cancer dictates that most patients have to go through – chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy and taking drugs. In most cases the side effects for any treatment are usually less severe in comparison to the benefits you would lose if you failed to get treatment. The effects of cancer treatment are varied and they can be serious. It takes quite a while for the body to go back to “normal”.

Imagine for a moment a city that has just gone through serious war. Visualize a town that has been struck down by bombs and rockets as they try to get rid of insurgents. While the motive may be good, the city gets destroyed. Innocent people including women and children are killed. Beautiful buildings are destroyed. There is wanton destruction everywhere. This analogy is similar to a body that has gone through cancer treatment. It is a body that has gone through a lot of pain and suffering.

While the side effects are different for everyone, allow me to give you a glimpse of just how much beating, the body has received. Your body is maimed during surgery and you are left with deep scars. Chemotherapy destroys both your good and bad cells. You may get mouth sores and bloated stomach. If you have received chemotherapy for breast cancer, all the hair on your body falls off…even your eye brows. Your nails and hands turn black, your face is blue black, and your white blood cells are at a low. The brain becomes slow and you keep forgetting things- One of the survivors I know calls it chemo brain. Radiation on the other hand literally gives you open wounds on the scar and the skin color darkens.

You also get Lymphedema which occurs even long after treatment. This is swelling that occurs in your arm and is most commonly caused by the removal of or damage to your lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment. The Lymphedema is resultant from a blockage in the lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system. This blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and the fluid buildup leads to swelling (mayo clinic).

You keep going to hospital and they have to keep on poking you with needles as they draw blood for different tests. Scans and X-rays become part of your life. It can be emotionally and physically draining. A friend of mine told me that she was tired of hospitals that after her treatment she would not pass near MP Shah Hospital again which is where she was receiving treatment from. This picture sounds horrific, right? Sadly that is the reality of the side effects from cancer treatment. However, I share this not because I want to paint a grim picture and scare you but to let you have an idea of what to expect and how to deal with it. Otherwise you could find yourself sinking into depression or doing unimaginable things. I also want to offer you hope and encourage you that things will go back to normal.

Before I started treatment, my doctor gave me a leaflet showing the various side effects of the different treatments that I would go through. They included some of the issues that I have mentioned above and much more. But there was also advice on what one could do to deal with challenges so as to avoid unpleasant surprises. Women love their hair, but regardless of this, one of the things that I learnt is that I should cut it. When I started treatment, I trimmed my hair short. When the chemo started taking effect after a little while, I was spared the agony of finding huge chunks of my beautiful long hair on the bed. I only got to see some few strands on the pillow and when bathing. At this point I went ahead and cut it all off. I aided the process.

Unless you want to go through the drama of seeing your hair falling off till you become completely bald, I would like to advise you to cut it. Do not be like the woman who was not aware of these effects and so when her long, beautiful silky hair fell off, she sued the hospital thinking that they had a role to play in that. I appreciated my bald head and realized it actually looked nice. Be encouraged that after treatment, your hair starts growing back. It actually gets better since it looks and feels like baby hair. Personally I have now developed a liking for short hair which I rock.

The black nails, they get back to normal too. But you could paint them. The discolored skin on the area receiving radiation and the surroundings  gets back its normal color too.  I was advised by my doctor that I should apply lotion that has Vitamin E as this would hasten the process. I did that and used Nivea Cocoa Butter. My skin went back to normal sooner than expected.

When the hand that went through surgery, gets lymphedema, go for physiotherapy. They show you exercises to drain off the fluid and to keep the hand fit. Aga Khan University Hospital normally has special physiotherapy sessions for lymphedema which are discounted. When you call to book an appointment, make sure that you tell them the physiotherapy is for lymphedema so that they can extend to you the special price. Avoid carrying heavy things with the hand that went through surgery since carrying heavy stuff also contributes to lymphedema. Avoid having a manicure on the same hand too. Exposing yourself to too much sun should also be avoided. Use sun screen as much as you can and wear hats when you have to be in the sun. You could also get a special sleeve and wear it on the hand. This sleeve encourage the flow of the lymph fluid out of your affected limb.

During chemo avoid crowded places to minimize the risks of getting opportunistic diseases. Take as much water as possible so that you pass urine and release most of the toxic materials from your body. I could take an average of 5 litres of water in a day. Try and eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables so as to boost your immune system. All these will also make your skin glow and look better. There is always a solution to every side effect that you will go through. Take it from me, when the cancer treatment is over, you get your groove back and much more. Remember everything has side effects. It is only the degree that matters.

Take a step of courage, it could be a matter of life and death for you by Wanjiru Githuka

It is October again, the special month dedicated to breast cancer where all and sundry are talking about it. The subject on breast cancer is hyped up by different media. The key message is screening, screening and screening. It cannot be understated.

Am an ardent believer that any month, any time is screening time and that cancer is not a taboo subject but one that should be discussed always. This is key especially now that there are many new cases of different cancers detected and reported every day worldwide. But then again am happy that a special month has been set aside to raise awareness on breast cancer and measures that need to be taken. In solidarity, I would like to join the rest of the world in stressing the importance of early screening for breast cancer.

For many women the thought of going for breast cancer screening or any other cancer for that matter, really scares them off. The fear of the unknown takes centre stage. I have talked to people who tell me that they do not want to know their status. They are scared and believe that “what they do not know will not hurt them”. On the contrary I stand on the principle that “people perish for lack of knowledge”. I would like to encourage you to go for it, it could mean a matter of life and death for you.

If you have never gone for breast cancer screening any other time, please take a step of courage this month and go. It is important to note that even men get breast cancer. Once you go for the breast cancer screening it can lead to early detection which means you are able to get treatment early enough. The good news is that if detected early, breast cancer is curable. This should be one good reason if no other that should encourage you to go for it. Ladies while you are it, ensure that you have a pap smear done.

Start with a self- breast examination which is recommended for any lady who is twenty (20) years and above. Most women do not know how to do it while some feel weird touching themselves. There is nothing to feel weird about. There is nothing peculiar about standing in front of a mirror and examining your breasts. Your partner could also play a critical role in feeling for any lumps.

It is important that you check your breasts monthly to ensure that they are healthy. Examining yourself regularly indicates that any changes can be noted early enough. If you are over forty (40) years, please go for a mammogram. I advocate for all to go for breast cancer screening regardless of whether there is a history of cancer in their family or not.

It is recommended that you examine yourself every month at the same time as the breasts change in shape and feel differently during the monthly cycle. For those that have reached menopause, the first day of each calendar month would be a good time to carry out the examination while for those that have not, following a period is a good time.

The first time that you do it, note the normal size and shape of the breast, the feel of them and the position of the nipples (Aga Khan University Hospital, Breast Centre, year unknown).

Some of the warning signs that you need to look out for include:

1) Unusual difference in size or shape of the breast

2) Alteration in the position of any nipple

3) Dimpling of the skin surface

4) Unusual prominence of the veins over either breast

5) Unusual discharge from the nipple

6) Unusual discrete lump or nodule in any part of either breast
(Adapted from the Aga Khan University Hospital Breast Center, year unknown).

Once you notice any of the above signs, please see a doctor. Early detection is critical in the fight against cancer.

Note: Please visit any major hospital for breast cancer screening. During the month of October some of the medical facilities offer free and or subsidized screening services. Agha Khan University Hospital usually does this. Check out the media for those that are offering free/subsidized services.