Of pink ribbons and pink post-its in my newspaper

So the newspaper had little pink post its all over the lower half of its front page yesterday morning. And a strip ad at the bottom showed me the pink ribbon, with Pond’s Let’s Pink written huge. And the body copy said “When you married her, you promised to take care of her. Remember your promise. Ensure she does a breast check up regularly to rule out cancer or detect it early.”
While I am of the category of customer who protests violently about my front page being hijacked for product promotions, this one touched a chord. Many chords. I must be honest. For one. I was consumed by guilt. I am one of them head in the sand types who never visits a doc until it is time to write out my last will and testimony and specify which flowers I want on my bier. For another, it talks to the husband about caring for the wife’s health. Something I think no brand has done so far. Of course, given that the husband is the kind of sensitive caring individual who notices I am burning up with fever when I reach half comatose level, this might be pushing my luck a bit to expect him to get the message.
Nonetheless. We are, of course, inundated with crappy advertising that tells us to eat cornflakes to get fibre into our guts so that we’re not constipated and can be all servile and gracious about helping a retard husband his socks. And more on the same lines. Then there is the Husband’s Choice cooking oils. Like we women don’t have hearts and we don’t keel over and die from clogged arteries and heart attacks. But I’ve already ranted about that in an earlier post, one which I am proud to say even won a Blogging Award at a blog I respect tremendously. So will not walk down the same rant path again.
My rant here is with me. About why I will not take responsibility of my own health. And all us women who take our health too lightly, for whom we are ourselves always the last on the list of our priorities. Hands up all ye over 30 who get an annual full health check up done? Pap smear, breast exam, blood work, etc included. There. I thought so. I’m guilty too, you know. The last time I got any tests done, I was coughing out blood and thought I was dying of tuberculosis (thankfully just an abrasion in the windpipe leading to the blood stained sputum) and that was four years ago. Breast self examination? Haven’t done it ever. Does it scare me as to what I could discover? Is this the ostrich head in the sand syndrome? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or, I don’t want to know. Sometime ago, an odd nodule in the armpit was nicked and checked and found all clear. The few days that I spent waiting for the results were agonizing. I also do have PCOD so I need to be constantly checking the assorted menagerie of cysts and fibroids growing and multiplying in my reproductive system. The last I went to a gynaecologist was around four to five years ago.
I need that rap on the knuckles right now. I have a child to bring up. I need to be more responsible about my health. And no, I am damned if I’m going to have my husband sweetly reminding me that I need to get myself periodically checked up, it just shows that I don’t take my own health seriously enough, and if I don’t why would he. The good doctor quoted in the article says just that, of how non serious we women are about our own health. “Over half the patients come to us in the last stage when curing it is difficult.”
The statistics from the report are scary, breast cancer has doubled in urban India in 24 years. I have an aunt who has lost both breasts to cancer. I know a family friend who had a mastectomy. I have a dear friend who had one breast removed and has had reconstructive surgery done because as she said, “I couldn’t bear to look at myself in the mirror. I looked grotesque.”
Breast cancer is insidious because we refuse to do a simple breast examination. Because we refuse to take out five minutes a month. Something so simple and yet something we are so reluctant to do. Why is there this resistance towards self examination, I wonder? Is it that we are not comfortable touching ourselves? Is it that we don’t have the sense of time and leisureliness in our daily routines to devote a few minutes a month to check for any suspicious lumps or knots.
30 per cent of the cancer cases in urban India amongst women are that of breast cancer. Breasts are such an integral part of a woman’s sense of self image, femininity. Losing a breast might not be physically as devastating as losing a limb or a faculty, but it does, for a woman, have a huge impact on self esteem and confidence.
I’m doing a self examination today. I think I owe it to myself. And I’ve going to book myself for a full body check up soon. I owe that to my son. To be in the best shape physically, mentally and emotionally. What about you?


About Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral published her first book, The Reluctant Detective in 2011. Since then, she has published eight books across genres till date. Her books include romance and chicklit with Once Upon A Crush (2014), All Aboard (2015), Saving Maya (2017); horror with The Face at the Window (2016) and nonfiction with Karmic Kids (2015), A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up (2016) and True Love Stories (2017). Her short stories have been published on Juggernaut, in magazines like Verve and Cosmopolitan, and have been part of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Have a Safe Journey (2017) and Boo (2017). Her articles and columns have appeared in the Times of India, Tehelka, DNA, Yowoto, Shethepeople, New Woman, Femina, Verve, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Conde Nast Traveller, DB Post, The Telegraph, the Asian Age, iDiva, TheDailyO and more. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards 2017 for Literary Contribution. She is a TEDx speaker and a mentor with Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk 2017.
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6 Responses to Of pink ribbons and pink post-its in my newspaper

  1. dhivya619DC says:

    thanks for the post. We really should take good care of our health. It is half past noon and I am surviving on half a cup of milk. Am SO going to eat now!


  2. K, try checkyourboobies.org or bebrightpink.org for monthly reminders. Your primary physician’s office should be sending you an annual reminder for the whole shebang. Given how many people you help on a daily basis, it would be great to put yourself on that list. Hugs.


  3. Guilty as charged. But I do have an unavoidable annual medical exam due soon. And I agree, adult women (and men) should be taking care of their health, not waiting for their spouses to remind them.


  4. sukanyabora says:

    Yay to you Kiran. Go for it. Get it done, for yourself and for your loved ones. Its only after I moved to the US did I realize how important self care is. We take our health and well being so lightly.
    October is also the month for breast cancer awareness. Cancer affects everyone directly or indirectly. Just in the last few weeks, two dear friends were diagnosed. Since then, life has been a roller coaster for them and for their family and friends. .


  5. Sunita says:

    Well written Kiran. I’ve been annually doing a complete health check for the past 4 years now. Ever since my first check up, I’ve began to be really careful of my health and lifestyle. I’ve even encouraged most of my friends and relatives to go for annual health check ups which they have thankfully done.


  6. How to arrest cancer:

    Macrobiotic nutritionist Shonali Sabherwal lists signs a doctor should look for to arrest cancer

    While cancer in its various forms is a highly dreaded disease, new breakthroughs in the field of medical science are constantly looking for ways to prevent its onset and spread. While its triggers are almost impossible to steer clear of, there are a few signs that can help arrest it. Macrobiotic research focuses on an integrative approach of medicine which takes into account a person’s mind, body, spirit and other aspects of their lifestyle as contributing factors. Physicial and holistic cancer healing expert Dr Leigh Erin Connealy lists what doctors should address and look for while treating or identifying it.

    1 Alkalinity
    PH is a common gauge that is overlooked. A normal level is 7.4 to 7.43. This is the power of hydrogen, ranging from 1 to 14. The lower the number, the more acidic you are. The body should be more on the alkaline side for the systems to function at an optimum level. An acidic body is starved of oxygen and can breed cancerous cells.

    2 Liver function
    Liver function tests are elevated in people who are not well. Our liver is an orgen that helps detoxification. It acts as an army general and decides what to keep and what cells to eliminate. So the first sign for a doctor to identify is to make sure that the liver function test is normal, not elevated.

    3 Sleep patterns
    How you sleep is a big indicator of how healthy you are. This is because the body gets a chance to repair and detoxify while asleep. Melatonin (a hormone), produced at night is said to reduce stress, boost immunity, deepen sleep and promote longevity. Prolactin, another hormone produced at night, repairs the brain and keeps the immune system healthy. Seven to eight hours of continous sleep is reccomended. A restless or light sleeper has difficulty relaxing at night and this increases his chances to attracting cancerous multiplication. They should be checked for early signs of the disease and care should be taken to ensure a good night’s rest.

    4 Blood work
    Doctors look at your natural killer cells, since they are at battle during an infection. If your diet is nutrient deficient, you’ll have poor circulation and a fair amount of toxicity in the blood. Doctors should test for the C Reactive protient test, a marker for inflammation. This is when the body breaks down as a result of the attack. Blood sugar levels will determine the glucose you have in your blood. A lot of cancer cells thrive on high blood sugar levels.

    5 Vitamin D levels
    Low levels of this vitamin increases risk of cancer and reduces the body’s ability to overcome the cancer, if you already have it. Low Vitamin D will affects the immune system, blood sugar levels and bones. It is also responsible for regulating processes within the body. Sunlight is an excellent source for it, so don’t be afraid to sun it out.

    6 Emotional conditions
    When we’re ill, doctors rarely delve into emotional aspects of a patient’s life. Your relationship with your partner, work stress, emotional satisfaction are all factors that contribute to stress and can weaken immunity. It is essential to over come negative patterns and harmful triggers in order to create a healthy mind and body. It needs careful inspection.

    7 Dietary habits
    Doctors tend to overlook diet while treating a cancer patient. Macrobiotics has been called a cancer curing diet. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow adopted the diet after her father was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors tell you to eat anything from meats, to cheese, dairy and sugar. Food regulates hormones and is a major part of your brain chemistry. Getting the right sort of nutrients to combat cancerous infection and aid the growth of antibodies is essential to cure and prevent cancer. Someone with an unhealthy diet is also placed under a high risk category.

    8 Your hormones
    The adrenal gland located around the kidney is an endocrine glad responsible for secreting hormones that respond to stress and immunity levels. These are specific stress and immunity balancing hormones indicating the health of your adrenals. If these aren’t functioning at their optimum capacity, your body is under threat as the. Then there is the thyroid, which regulates the metabolism of all your cells. People with lower levels of thyroid are at a higher risk of cancers.


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