Why India Outreach?

 

India Outreach

June 27-August 21, 2018

In India, I still observe a huge level of ignorance in women about taking care of their breast health via basic routine self-breast examination, clinical examination, mammogram or ultrasound. Women would go to the oncologists when they have serious breast issues and when diagnosed, tumors are huge and spread to distant organs, which becomes an incurable situation leading to very high death rate. This is consistent across every class of people in the society regardless of their level of education and socio-economic status. I still experience that women feel ashamed to discuss their concerns with their family, friends and clinicians. Women & family members even hesitate to mention the word cancer in “Breast”. It’s the shyness and embarrassment that society imposes. It’s the stigma, awkwardness and taboo of using the word “Breast”.

Another concern that I wanted to address during my trip is about Dense Breast issues. It is important to understand that Mammograms may miss detecting tumors if one has dense breast. I have realized that not everyone is aware of the complications that may arise when women have dense breast.

Strategy

I believe in collaboration, network and working together. Let us make Breast Cancer awareness in India a campaign to break the taboo and speak up about our Breast health—Fight Breast Cancer with Pride and Dignity.

Since December 2017, I started to build the network, tried to connect with people across India. I connected with my network of friends, who then connected me further to others associated with hospitals, NGOs, Education institutes and network of their friends and families. I worked on emails and telephone meetings, explaining why and how we can come together to help increase the survival rate in India. I reached out to more than five hundred people connected to India globally (friends, family, connections through my friends’ network), and I am thankful to all those who reciprocated, believed in me and believed in the cause. There were denials, refusals to participate but my agenda is not to “Give Up”!

I am so thankful to all who came forward and have become a part of this campaign. Even if we can save one life, we save a family!

 
Melissa Cong-Huyen