“I remember that in 2013, after a trip to the beach, one of my daughters told me that her left breast was swollen, I went to the doctor, I did all the tests and the result was positive: she had a tumor in the left breast". This is how Hermel Yajaira Rodríguez remembers that time when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The 57-year-old housewife reports that the medical indications indicated 11 chemotherapy sessions to shrink the tumor, later they indicated that a radical mastectomy was necessary.
“I was very proud of my breasts, but there was cancer in the left one, I thought about it and told the doctor that if removing my breast was going to give me an opportunity to continue living, I would accept the operation, followed by 28 sections of radiotherapy and then maintenance treatments, seven years later I can say I conquered breast cancer ”, affirms the mother of three children and grandmother of five grandchildren.
Throughout her process, Hermel Yajaira met other patients in different hospitals. She speaks very easily, as if she were a doctor, about the different types of disease, treatments and the consequences they leave on the body. She understood that she not only needed treatments to end the disease, but she also had to manage her self-esteem.
“My self-esteem was greatly affected when I saw myself in the mirror without my breast, I attended several sections with psychologists, but I found true support with Mrs. Regina Stalina, also an oncology patient, creator of the Living Trophy Foundation, which dedicated herself to the manufacture of bras with external prostheses, for women who had undergone mastectomy, ”said Rodríguez, who lives in the city of Guarenas, Miranda state.
From the Living Trophy Foundation, in addition to leaving with a prosthetic bra, she also did so with a dose of renewed self-esteem, understanding that she would not only take advantage of her opportunity to live, but also help other cancer patients.
Along with Regina Stalina, she participated in support groups, gave talks, visited the sick in hospitals, sought drug donations and tests. Likewise, it installed a shelter for patients from the interior of the country who need to come to Caracas for consultations or treatments.
“My dear friend Regina Stalina relapsed and passed away, but she has left behind a large contingent of women cancer survivors to whom she gave her support, who are committed to following her legacy, and who have understood that we are more than a breast, we are warriors, we are living trophies, ”said Hermel, who likes a good plate of Venezuelan flag, salsa music and feels very proud to be a breast cancer survivor patient.
The World Health Organization decreed October as Pink Month, dedicated to the prevention of breast cancer “for which we want to remind the ladies of the need to carry out a self-examination, to go to the doctor at least once a year to practice the mammography, breast echoes and other specialized studies, always remembering that early detection is important to defeat the disease, "he stressed.
The warning signs of breast cancer are the presence of small lumps, hardness, pain, retracted nipples, or loss of fluid from the nipples.
A gynecological check-up should be performed at least once a year, with mammography and ultrasound examinations, which is essential to ensure comprehensive prevention.
In case breast cancer is detected in the early stages, the chances of curing the disease amount to 97%.
Obesity, excessive ingestion of alcoholic beverages and the consumption of medications or hormones without gynecological control are some of the factors that predispose the appearance of breast cancer, as well as the prolonged use of hormonal therapies.
According to the WHO, every 30 seconds, somewhere in the world, breast cancer is diagnosed.
A woman dies in the world of breast cancer every 53 minutes, according to the WHO.
If a breast cancer is detected at the beginning, the probability of death is reduced by 25%.
Breast cancer is the most common in women
At the initiative of the World Health Organization, every October 19, the World Day to Fight Breast Cancer is commemorated, in order to promote the early detection of the disease, in addition to promoting care and support given to the awareness, treatment and palliative care of those who suffer from the pathology.
The WHO states that breast cancer is currently the most common in women, both in developed and developing countries. The agency's specialists assure that the majority of deaths from breast cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries, where most of the cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, especially due to low awareness and barriers that make it difficult to access to health services.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in 2008 1,38 million cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the world.
The study reports that survival rates differ widely around the world, ranging from 80% or more in North America, Sweden, and Japan, to 60% in middle-income countries, and less than 40% in low-income countries. Low survival rates in less developed countries are mainly due to late diagnosis.
The Pan American Health Organization points out on its website that in Venezuela, cancer is the second leading cause of death. It is estimated that 25% of people who reach the age of 74 will be diagnosed with one of the variety of pathologies; and one in seven patients is at risk of dying from this disease.
The institution explains that the most common cancer in the country is lung cancer (for both genders), followed by prostate cancer (in men) and breast cancer (in women).