PERHAPS, ONE of the IMPORTANT ACHIEVEMENTS of TODAY’s MEDICINE — reducing the taboo of talking about a number of diseases, including cancer. Recently, social networks appear accounts of those who did not have cancer, but had his high risk — and they did a preventive operation. Such people are called previvors – “survivors in advance”, in contrast to the survivors — have survived cancer and its treatment. Active provisory — not only the level stars of Angelina Jolie, but ordinary women who blog, popular accounts in social networks and participate in talk shows on television dedicated to the prevention of cancer, primarily breast cancer. We tried to understand why they tell about themselves and how it can help others.
Forty years ago, the word “cancer” was uttered in a whisper, and there were no months of awareness and colorful ribbons as symbols of the fight against tumors. Everything changed in 1974, when the first lady of the United States Betty Ford openly talked about breast cancer and mastectomy — and made a revolution, thanks to which the stigma of cancer began to decline. People who have survived a malignant tumor, are increasingly not shy to talk about the disease, its treatment and the difficulties through which they had to go. On the one hand, it can help other patients with the same diseases, on the other — to increase awareness, to force someone else to see a doctor for examination or to understand what a sick loved one is experiencing.
Many types of cancer, especially if you identify them in a timely manner, are well cured, and the word itself has ceased to be a definite death sentence — but, nevertheless, it causes fear and at first shocking. In addition to the disease itself and treatment, often giving severe side effects, it is necessary to solve a variety of problems: financial because of expensive treatment or disability, and psychological such as depression and anxiety. Relatives and friends often do not know how to behave, how and what to talk about with the person who was diagnosed with cancer. This is a time when family support is critical — and, unfortunately, many families cannot stand the test of strength.
As science has evolved, it has become clear that some people have a higher risk of certain tumors — this can be determined if we study the heredity and environmental factors and conduct a genetic analysis. For example, women, the nearest relatives of which were breast cancer, shows the analysis for mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2. The presence of BRCA1 increases the risk of breast cancer to 55-65 % (and according to some data — up to 87 %), and such patients may be recommended preventive removal of mammary glands — so did, for example, Angelina Jolie. Perhaps, the actress became the most famous “previsora”, but the movement of “pre-survivors” came first. Many women after preventive operations tell about their experience, including the lack of understanding from friends, and that they made the right decision.
Who made a preventive mastectomy goes for “paranoia” and “hypochondria”, and the removal of the breast to prevent cancer is compared even with the removal of the eye to prevent cataracts
Of course, in relation to other types of cancer, you can take certain measures: quit Smoking, lead a healthy lifestyle, as often as possible to be examined. But with a high genetic predisposition, every such examination is a fear that doctors will find a tumor. For most types of dangerous tumors preventive operations are not available: you can not remove a healthy person’s lungs, liver or colon to prevent cancer — the same, who have a very high risk of breast cancer, the operation allows you to completely prevent it — and to live in peace. So previvor is primarily women who underwent prophylactic mastectomy.
On instagram page more signed sixteen thousand people — and she says that doubted her choice and upset, but now convinced of the correctness of the decision. She found out about the malicious mutation at 22 years old, and she was offered several options, including enhanced surveillance, in which every six months to do MRI and other examinations. It sounds easy, but according to Paige, when you have the highest risk of breast cancer, this strategy turns into a daily fear: “you Wake up and think that today you will develop cancer.” So she chose a different approach — operation. Stephanie, who also underwent a preventive mastectomy, talks in her blog about the fact that life does not “happen to us”, but we can actively build it in many ways. If you have a high risk of breast cancer, then mastectomy is likely to have to be done sometime; then you have to live the rest of your life in fear of recurrence of cancer — and probably die from it.
It would seem that the opportunity to prevent a terrible disease — is a major achievement of science, but of previvors often criticized. According to Dina Roth Port, author of “Previvors“, some breast cancer survivors women find the movement of preventers offensive to themselves and distracting from them. Who made a preventive mastectomy goes for “paranoia” and “hypochondria”, and the removal of the breast for the prevention of cancer is compared even with the removal of the eye to prevent cataracts — an obvious exaggeration, because the lack of breast and eyes is clearly associated with different quality of life. Hardly anyone is happy about the prospect of breast removal-but there are no other methods of prevention with the same efficiency yet. BRCA mutations also increase the risk of ovarian cancer, so in some cases preventive surgery to remove them — which is also often subject to condemnation.
It turns out that talk of mastectomy easily move from the plane of medical achievements in the plane of objectification — and doubting the choice of women to remove the Breasts, surrounding essentially condemn the pre-rulers for the fact that they put health and life above the standards of beauty. Compare: people with a high risk of melanoma who refuse to go to the beach, do not go outside without sunscreen and preventatively remove suspicious moles, too, a kind of prevayvory, but they are not criticized publicly. Is it possible to condemn women who do not want to repeat the path of their mothers and grandmothers or leave their children too early? Of course, the decision must be balanced and reasonable, it must be taken by a woman together with a doctor — but whatever this decision may be, it deserves respect. The openness of the PREV, their stories about the experience, including the reaction of others, help to normalize the situation and tell those who face a choice that they are not alone.