Sunday, April 5, 2009

Filipinos affected by Cancer and the underlining Stigma

I went to lunch today with my cousin and she told me that our Auntie Rita passed away a couple months ago from ovarian cancer. My cousin told me that Auntie Rita didn't feel the need to see a Doctor regularly because she felt fine. Until she started having pains near her pelvis. She went to go see the doctor to find out what those pains were and it was too late. The cancer already spread.

When I heard this story it made me think about my work at the health forum. I am currently writing a health brief on Filipinos and Cancer and found cancer facts about Filipino women having low rates of mammograms and pap smears. As a result of low screening rates, there are high incidence levels of breast cancer and cervical cancer in Filipinas. These screenings are so important because it helps to detect cancer before it progresses, but mammograms and pap smears are tests that women find to be uncomfortable. Filipinas especially don't feel the need to be screened because don't see the importance of getting a mammogram and pap smear. And to add to that, they are modest people that are also modest about their bodies. They also believe that if there are no symptoms of illness it means everything is fine with their health.
Education I feel is key to addressing this health problem and lifting the stimga. Educating the Filipino community will not only help them become more knowledgeable about cancer, but will also encourage them to take control of their health.

It is upsetting to hear stories like the one of my Aunt and know that if she saw a Doctor regularly that this disease could have been prevented.

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