Observing Pink month is not enough

Last Updated 12 October 2010, 16:34 IST

October has been declared as the ‘Pink’ month. Women afflicted with ‘breast cancer’ will receive love, respect and support to make their lives rosier. Medical science, NGOs, social service trusts and organisations dedicated to the eradication of the said disease are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that they reach out to as many patients as possible to lend them their helping hand. Besides able counselling and awareness programmes are making the feminine lot increasingly knowledgeable on the subject.

It is a well-known fact that the ‘Big C’ not only takes toll of its victim physically and mentally but also burns a considerable hole in the pocket while it is being shown the door. The surgery followed by chemotherapy, radiation and sometimes a hormonal treatment is not only a painful affair but can erode the self-confidence of the sufferer by pushing her into an abyss of depression.

Though this particular variety of the crab has shown signs of relenting when discovered in its early stages and letting the honourary cancerian off the hook with due treatment most women flatly refuse to undergo the rigorous treatment. Surprisingly it is not the economic or medical which happen to be some of the foremost factors that deter them, on the other hand it is the social stigma attached to carcinoma which is the main culprit.

Even educated women who are in the know of the entire process have been known to behave in this pattern.


Women with daughters of marriageable age don’t even want to be sighted anywhere near a hospice which treats cancer for the simple reason that it might upset the prospects of their offspring’s marital future. Older sisters and aunts who have been identified with the malignant tumour prefer to relegate themselves into the background and prefer to lead an incognito existence to favour the smooth weddings of their sisters and nieces.

Middle aged women who are in various stages of their married life hesitate to breathe a word about their cancerous condition for the sheer fear of rocking the foundations of their wedlock or upsetting the future of their children. Unmarried girls who have had the misfortune of coming under the cancer bracket are usually asked to bury their malevolent secret lest they are shelved for the rest of their lives.

This phenomenon might appear to be downright foolish to the pragmatic eye, but people who can slip into the shoes of the lady who has been declared to be positive with a malignant tumour will see her point of view. Hence, only a fraction of affected women are ready to undergo the aggressive treatment despite all odds.

It is sad, but true that we live in a diabolic society. The institution of marriage which stands on several factors like the social and economic status of the family, educational qualifications, financial stability, physical attributes and horoscope of the girl, the ability to pay a handsome dowry to the groom has now decided to also take a dekko at the medical history of the bride and her family.

While there is nothing apparently wrong with bearing caution on the medical side, one also needs to use discretion and the ability to accept medical certification that cancer may not always be passed on to the next generation.

The daring women who do emerge successful from the demoniac disease had another story to tell. Apparently the survivors have been plunged into doldrums both in domestic and professional fronts. Those who have resumed their duties after the restorative sabbatical have revealed that they are evaluated in a very imbalanced manner. Initially they are treated with kid gloves of warmth and sympathy.

Over a period of time, if they are found as efficient as ever, they are either taken for granted or teased into packing more into their itinerary. But if they are found wanting in their performance they are driven to a corner till their self-esteem takes a beating. Every act and deed of theirs is attributed to their ‘karma’ and they are sometimes ostracised as veritable pariahs by the very people they love and cherish.

Cancer becomes the inevitable bone of contention of their lives. God forbid, if they have a relapse of the deadly malady, their lives turn into a living hellhole. Medical science or celebrating ‘Pink Months’ alone cannot alter this scenario. The amount of effort, patience, co-operation and money poured by all concerned, into the cancer drill has to be humongous. Entire families need to be sensitised to the holistic needs of the cancer patient so that they are able to metamorphose into a reliable support system.

The hope of finding light at the end of the tunnel will be worth all the exertion and will serve as a worthy example to those on the threshold facing a Hamlet like dilemma!

(Published 12 October 2010, 16:34 IST)

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