From breast, lung and vaginal Cancer, one woman’s incredible story of hope

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By Bibi Khatoon

Anna DeMorias has been fighting Cancer for 10 years – not one, not two, not even three.

She has overcome cancer to her right breast, then lung cancer, and then cancer to her left breast. Now, she is battling vaginal cancer.

DeMorias was first diagnosed in 2008 at the age of 44.

She was aware that other family members were affected by different types of cancer and so when one morning in 2007 she returned from the gym and felt an unusual lump in her right breast, she feared the worst.

It took her several months before she was forced to visit the doctor.

“I was afraid…so my husband told me to go and if I don’t go he’ll be upset with me because it started to nip,” she said.

After a mammogram and two biopsies, her worst fear was confirmed on August 29, 2008.

On October 19, 2008, her right breast was removed.

However, the mother of three said her fight did not end there as in December of the same year, she found out that there were cancerous cells in her lungs.

This time, she took 13 months of going through Chemotherapy treatment and though at that point doctors had given up on her, she was determined to live for her family.

She visited the Cancer Institute at the Georgetown Public Hospital where she was able to undergo another surgery.

In 2015, she was diagnosed with cancer in the left breast.

“My hair fell off so many times!” DeMorias joked.

She is now fighting vaginal cancer.

She did 26 sessions of radiation from May to July of this year and is set to undergo another process before the ending of 2018.

“I want to tell people that there is hope because is ten years now I am fighting. I am fighting because I know this will not take me.”

The 54 year old woman is also urging others to restrict themselves to a proper diet which will help in the long term.

She is also working to ensure her three children are not affected by this disease. Her youngest daughter, who is nine-years old, will be taking the HPV vaccine, which is administered by the Ministry of Public. The Ministry relaunched the vaccination campaign in 2017 to have each girl vaccinated against cervical cancer.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and is estimated to account for 9.6 million death in 2018.

Breast Cancer accounts for 2.09 million of these cases, the WHO said.

Minister within the Ministry, Dr. Karen Cummings, said breast and cervical are most common not only in Guyana but around the world.

“Unfortunately for us, as a country, the data shows that cancers are slowly moving up the table to sit as the fifth leading cause of death in Guyana,” she said. The Ministry said one of the leading causes is the expanding fastfood industry and lack of exercise.

The month of October is breast cancer awareness month. During this month, commonly known as ‘Pinktober’, in keeping with the color used to signify Breast Cancer, various activities are held to promote early detection.

Marcel Bourne, another survivor who spoke with the News Room about her experience is encouraging persons to do self examination –the most encouraged method of detection –which led to her discovery in 2015.

The mother of two recalled that she had just exited the bathroom when she examined her left breast where she felt a lump. “I said: Oh no, you’re not supposed to be here,” the woman said.

Bourne said on her first visit to the doctor, she was told that the lump is a fatty tissue but she went for a second opinion; that’s when she was diagnosed and began treatment.

The mother of two is also urging persons to complete their Chemotherapy treatment.

Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
  • Skin irritation or dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)

The need to complete treatment was also highlighted by Country representative of the Pan-American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation, Dr. William AduKrow at the launch held at the Ministry’s Brickdam compound.

According to statistics presented by Dr.  AduKrow, Guyana recorded 6,518 cancer cases from 2003 to 2012. 60.7% of these he said were females.

By 2030, he said the number of women newly diagnosed with Breast Cancer is projected to increase by 46% in the Americas if current trends continue.

Rates of breast cancer is said to increase after age 40and are highest in women over age 70 years.

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