Pink October: The importance of breast cancer awareness

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Neang Sovathana, popularly known as DJ Nana, encourages women to conduct self-examination or see medical experts to prevent breast cancer. KT/Say Tola

I stared at the large, pink screen on the stage inside the huge hall of Cambodia-Korea Cooperation Center, then turned my head to the art installment on the right side as if I found the answer to the striking question, “Healthier, Better, Longer Lives”.

As the world celebrates the international month for breast cancer awareness this month, AIA, in collaboration with Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope, organised a seminar for millennials about Breast Cancer on October 13th. The seminar also saw the participation of doctors, well-known names in the entertainment industry, as well as youth leaders.

The seminar tackled different aspects of the dreaded illness – its symptoms, treatments, prevalence and the common perception of Cambodian people towards it.

Popular DJ Neang Sovathana – also known as DJ Nana – shared her personal experience as she never cared about breast cancer before she became AIA’s kol.

“I think I had never cared of this cancer before. When I joined AIA, I started to realise that I need to have myself examined. I found out that I had a tumor on the right side. I suddenly went to check in three different hospitals. After discussing with my partner, I decided to have the tumor removed. After several laboratory tests, we found out that the tumor wasn’t malignant.

Speakers share their perspective on the prevalence of breast cancer in Cambodia and the taboos that hinder the widespread awareness of the disease. KT/Say Tola

Understanding that most of Cambodian girls are conservative and shy in this kind of topic, DJ Nana encouraged young women to have themselves checked of possible tumors or illnesses before it gets too late for treatment.

“As a girl, you should know that nothing compares to being fully alive. And no one would love you like yourself. So please be careful with your health. And to men, they should also encourage their loved ones to test for possible defects or meet with doctors. Overcome shyness, you can save your life!” said DJ Nana.

Dr Preap Ley, general surgeon of Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope, explained to participants that there are various factors leading women to get breast cancer.

Breast cancer can be caused by intake of unhealthy food, less physical activity, excessive drinking and smoking. However, it can also come from genetic factors that pass on one generation to another.

“Women should be aware of testing and feeling their breast by themselves. They should do some self-examination every month after having menstruation, especially those who are already beyond 20 years old. They should also go to check up with doctors at least once every three years.”

He added, “if they feel and found tumor, I suggest for them to see a doctor, not Khmer healer. With the expertise and experience of doctors, they can tell whether the cancer will spread or not by histology analysis. People cannot predict based on the side of tumor. Sometimes it’s small but really dangerous.”

Based on his experience working at Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope, Dr Ley has observed that most of breast cancer patients are those between 40 and 55 years old. He said that breast cancer is ranked as second most common cancer, next to stomach cancer.

“My suggestion to women is to live a balanced life. Women should eat healthy food, shouldn’t drink and smoke too much alcohol and do exercise regularly. More importantly, they should have self-examinations or see doctors as regularly as possible, especially if they know something is wrong with their body. Only doctor can tell them of the problem and save their lives. If they keep it long, it can be too late and cannot be treated anymore,” said Dr Ley.

On Saturday, October 20, AIA will be holding other significant events to raise awareness on breast cancer. There will be a whole-day free breast cancer check-up at Koh Pich. A zumba dancing session and other events will also be held.

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