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October 07, 2020

October is a Breast cancer month which every country takes responsibility in increasing awareness, early detection and treatment of the disease.

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS :Dr Busi Mlambo 7 October, 2020

October is a Breast cancer month which every country takes responsibility in increasing awareness, early detection and treatment of the disease. OWSD Zimbabwe National Chapter is one of the organizations that is celebrating breast cancer awareness month through educating members on the disease. On the 7th of October 2020, OWSD Zimbabwe National Chapter hosted Dr. Busi Mlambo who gave a breast cancer awareness talk.
The talk was opened by Ms. Polite Mukwada, executive committee member who gave the opening remarks. She acknowledged the presence of members and important guests who graced the online talk. She encouraged members to listen attentively and ask questions pertaining to the topic. She also gave a brief background   of the organization, its aims and objectives for the benefit of new members. One of the aims is to reach out to all girls in Zimbabwe and have an influence and guide them in their career choices. She also encouraged women to be healthy for them to work well in their careers. 
The presenter, Dr. Busi Mlambo gave a heartwarming presentation on Breast Cancer. Dr. Busi Mlambo is a conference and education officer for women in surgery Africa. She is passionate about mentoring young women in science who want to pursue careers in surgery and research. Her presentation posed eye opening questions for the attendees to ponder on. She defined breast cancer as a disease which the cells in the breast grow out of control. The type of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast turn into cancer.  She shared on the structure of female breast and it is made up of three main parts that is the lobules, ducts and connective tissue. The lobules are the glands that produce milk, the ducts are tubes that carry the milk to the nipple and the connective tissue surrounds and holds everything together. She highlighted that most breast cancers begin in the ducts or lobules. Dr. Mlambo also shared on the most common types of breast cancer and these include Invasive ductal carcinoma and Invasive lobular carcinoma. A major concern with breast cancer is its propensity to spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body. She encouraged women on early detection of breast cancer so that it can diagnosed and treated at a stage where it’s still curable. Breast cancer can spread outside the breast through blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. It usually spreads to the brain, the lungs, liver and the bones. When it spreads to the part of the body it is said to have metastasized. She also shared on the risk factors for breast cancer and these include age, reproductive and hormonal factors, hereditary/genetic factors, pathological factors and lifestyle factors. She also highlighted that females are more at risk with getting breast cancer than males. 
In addition to the above, she elaborated on each of the risk factors for members to fully understand breast cancer. Hereditary factors are also risk factors for breast cancer and one has to look at both the mothers and fathers side as they are equally important. The more cases of breast cancer cases they are in the family and the closeness of the relationship to the family be it father, mother of sibling the more at risk of getting breast cancer. Pathological factors refer to patients who have had a past history of breast cancer or the ductal carcinoma or lobular carcinoma are also at risk of having breast cancer. The lifestyle category includes things like obesity, alcohol consumption, adiposity increases the risk of breast cancer and also a recurrent in breast cancer survivors. Dr. Mlambo also shared on why breast cancer awareness is vital and she emphasized that breast cancer is the most frequent cause of cancer death worldwide with an estimated 1.67 million cases in 2012. The highest standardized age deaths are observed in North America, Australia, New Zealand and Northern and Western Europe. Low and medium countries such as Zimbabwe are not spared of this predicament and this is due to the increase in aging population and increased factors of non-communicable diseases that are associated with urbanization and economic development. In Sub-Saharan Africa breast cancer is the most frequent female cancer with 194,378 cases in 2012.Globally mortality due to breast cancer is highest in Sub-Saharan Africa with a 5year survival rate of less than 40%. The data from the Zimbabwe National Cancer registry it indicates that the age standardized incidents rate of breast cancer among women in Zimbabwe more than doubled from 20.9% in the period of 1991-1995 to 46.8% in the period of 2007 to 2010 with an annual percentage change of 4.9% increase per year. In Zimbabwe breast cancer constitutes 17.1% of new cancer cases and it’s the fifth cause of cancer death. Breast cancer in Zimbabwe comes second to cervical cancer with 1886 cases with females of all ages. 
Furthermore, she highlighted how breast cancer presents itself and this includes breast mass or thickening, nipple discharge, nipple changes, change in breast shape/size, change in skin, axillary mass and pain even though breast cancers are rarely painful. She also pointed out the reasons why women in Zimbabwe and Sub-Saharan Africa are seeking medical attention so late and this includes: sociocultural factors, fatalism related to cancer diagnosis, stigma and fear of the loss of a breast. The early detection methods are very important to reduce the risk of women having full blown cancer. The strategies include awareness campaigns, breast self-examination, clinical breast examination and screening mammography. Screening mammography is an x-ray picture of the breast to look for early signs of breast cancer and it reduces the odds of breast cancer. Screening mammography facilitates the use early treatment. An alternative approach to screening for poor countries such as those in Sub-Saharan Africa is clinical down staging that is detecting breast cancer earlier in symptomatic women. To add on Dr. Mlambo shared on the treatment which includes: radiotherapy and systematic therapy. As she concluded she encouraged women to do self-examination screening as it helps with detecting breast cancer early. Encourage everyone be it young women or older women to go breast cancer screening and also not to ignore any signs of breast cancer.
The talk ended with a question and answer session as members got to interact with Dr. Mlambo. Dr. Kazunga OWSD Zimbabwe National Chapter vice treasurer gave the closing remarks. She showed gratitude towards the presentation by Dr. Mlambo as it was educative and informative. 


On the 14th of October, 2020 OWSD Zimbabwe National Chapter hosted Dr. Zviregei Jiri who shared a testimony of what she went through during her breast cancer treatment. Dr. Zviregei Jiri is a breast cancer survivor and a lecturer in biosciences department at Bindura University of Science Education. She is also the current vice chair of the OWSD Zimbabwe National Chapter who is passionate about creating an enabling environment for the girl child to take up sciences.
Ms. Yvett Chahwanda current executive committee treasurer gave the opening remarks and she highlighted the objectives and aims of the organization. OWSD Zimbabwe National Chapter aims to inform women from Zimbabwe and the region about opportunities to access higher education in science (including OWSD PhD and Early Career fellowships and prizes) and to encourage and support women from Zimbabwe and the region in their careers as scientists.  She also encouraged women to join the organization and get empowered. 
Dr. Zviregei Jiri gave a testimony on how she got to know about the cancer, breaking the news to kids, the battle she fought and the psychosocial support she got from friends and society. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer she did not know what to say, think or do. She was crushed and devastated about the news. A young lady had taught about breast cancer at a ladies’ fellowship and taught them how to do self-examination, since then she started doing self-examination at home until she discovered a lump in the left breast in January 2019. She went for a mammogram to check if it was breast cancer and unfortunately the mammogram gave the results that it was breast cancer. She showed gratitude towards her support system that includes the husband, family, friends and workmates who stood by her through thick and thin. It was difficult breaking the news to the children. She shared how she got to break the news to the children. It was difficult but had to be done. The real battle began after surgery, when she was in and out of hospital from June to October 2019. Dr. Jiri shared that some days it was very difficult such that people started preparing for her funeral. She also went through depression because she didn’t understand what she was going through. Her immune system was very weak but her strong will to survive made her fight the battle. Her strong relationship with God also made her very strong in fighting breast cancer. She encouraged women to live a health life and minimize the exposure risk. Early detection increases the chances of survival. As she concluded she gave great parting words of encouragement, ‘Never be ashamed of what you have been through God will use your story for his glory’. 
Mrs. Blessing Nyamasoka-Magonziwa a member of the OWSD Zimbabwe National Chapter gave the closing remarks.  

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