October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Say the word ‘boob’ in a Muslim household and you might find your audience looking away awkwardly, their cheeks turning the colour of sarbat. Sometimes even saying the word mastectomy renders one with the inability to vocalize, the word escaping your lips as nothing more than a whisper!

So how do you bring the message of breast cancer awareness to a community like ours? How do you get our mothers, our sisters and ourselves to go for regular examinations, and more importantly, to think it okay (and very necessary) to do so. We would very gladly go to the dentist for our half yearly check up, and even participate in Breast Cancer Awareness walks but breast exams (even if done at home) are just a bit too personal and embarrassing for us.

The truth is that breast cancer is the most common form of cancer all over the world, only second to skin cancer in SA, and as many as 1 in 13 European women and 1 in 80 black women are likely to get it. 1 in 26 South African women are likely to get breast cancer irrespective of race groups, thus making it a disease that can affect anyone! In fact, three quarter of the women who develop breast cancer aren’t in the high risk category!

Women who haven’t had children are at greater risk of developing the disease, and women who breastfeed their children lower their risk considerably. Thanks to child-bearing, and following the wonderful Sunnah of our Prophet SAW, most Muslim women can safely say that they’ve been saved by the kids! Just when you thought they did nothing in return for all the mothering you gave them…

Nevertheless just like increasing the ummah, and breastfeeding one’s children are Sunnahs worth upholding, so too is the Sunnah of taking care of one’s body and making sure that you treat it when it is ailing and in need of medical attention. Allah created man and gave him the ability to think up cures for diseases, we should appreciate this fact and the breakthroughs in medical science by having ourselves checked regularly like doctors have told us to.

Allah’s Messenger said, β€œThere are two blessings in which many people incur loss. (They are) health and free time (for doing good).” (Al-Bukhari )

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