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Breast Cancer Awareness Month is as much a time to show support for warriors fighting one of life’s hardest battles as it is a time to practice self-care in knowing our own bodies and serving them as best we can. Oncologist Dr Jafta weighs in on key breast awareness advice:


Gqeberha, South Africa (16 October 2023) — “Know your body and take care of it.” This is the advice given to South African women by Dr Zukiswa Jafta, a Clinical Radiation oncologist based in East London.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with a lifetime risk of one in 27 in South Africa, according to the 2019 National Cancer Registry (NCR). But, as Dr Jafta highlights, when it comes to awareness campaigns, there isn’t enough emphasis on breast health as a whole.

While cancer-related organisations, initiatives and many an oncologist work very hard to educate the public about the importance of regular breast self-examinations, mammograms, and clinical check-ups, there are other facets of the awareness journey that are sometimes overlooked, despite them being just as necessary.

“Currently there is not enough information to emphasise the importance of breast health in young women,” the oncologist shares.

Breast Awareness is Key

Jafta notes that breast health begins with breast awareness.

“Being aware of how your breasts normally look or feel, makes it easier for you to detect when there is any change.”

Jafta offers the key advice that women need to know how their breasts change in sensitivity and texture during the different stages of the menstrual cycle so that red flags and natural changes can be distinguished.

Additionally, concerns about breast pain, breast lumps and/or nipple discharge, should be reported to healthcare providers as soon as they become evident.

Not to mention, if a problem seems to persist but it has been written off as nothing to worry about, trust your gut and get a second and third opinion.

Decreasing Risk Factors

While breast cancer is not preventable the risk factors could be decreased.  Jafta shares that certain factors like keeping one’s body mass index below 25, healthy eating (especially high-fibre foods) and limiting alcohol and smoking while increasing physical activity all play their part in lowering breast cancer risks.

Self-care Strengthens Us

She also emphasised the importance of self-care and self-love.

“It is important for women to know their bodies. With self-care they can do any activity that can strengthen them physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and it is a great necessity to take charge of their own needs and make themselves a priority. This is how you practice self-love. Women must learn to surround themselves with positive motivators, and people that support them,” she advised.

Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture MEC, Nonceba Kontsiwe, similarly concurs with Jafta on encouraging exercise. She said that physical activity for men and women must be promoted from a young age.

“The advent of mobile devices and social media have significantly contributed to the inactivity among youth. We must find opportunities to educate them about their bodies, self-awareness and the importance of exercise.”

This advice comes ahead of the  Algoa FM Big Walk for Cancer, set to take place on 28 October in Gqeberha, East London and George. The beneficiaries of this year’s proceeds are Reach for a Dream and Wings & Wishes who both do essential work in helping patients.

Reach for a Dream supports young children who are fighting life-threatening illnesses by giving them hope and resources to remain positive in their fight, while Wings & Wishes provides transportation for young patients who need to travel to hospitals for treatment. Often treatment is only available in another province.

Sources: Supplied
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Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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