The month of October is widely referred to as the Pink month, dedicated to creating awareness about breast cancer.
Across countries screening and treatment of the disease do take place but in Ghana this year, focus is being placed on men getting out and testing for the cancer of the breast.
In the capital, Accra, dozens of women gather at a health screening outlet on the premises of Star Life, an insurance company to check for cancer of the breast.
But they are not the only ones hoping to find out their breast cancer status and seek the needed treatment.
Some men have joined to get checked for cancer. Martin Adjiri who is in his 30s, is one of those men.
Adjiri had come to “get tested because it can happen to me too, and that is the thing sometimes you think, this thing it won’t happen to me, but how do you know, how can you be certain, how can you be sure?
So it is best you get tested just to have that clear conscience and feel like okay, I don’t have it, I am good to go.”
Anxious for test results
Anxious Adjiri said “like any test, you do it so that you can get your mind off it. So you like okay, I have gotten checked, now I am comfortable, I walk with more confidence and I know I don’t have any signs of breast cancer or breast cancer in me.”
Adjiri was attended to by health officials who first counselled and educated him on how to check for a lump in his breast. He came out now less nervous and relieved.
“She checked the other side from the other breast for me and I felt good. All in all it was a good examination, it turns out I don’t have any lumps in me and I am good.
Now with this knowledge I for once I am going to tell my mother, to all my female friends, because now I am more knowledgeable, I am more aware about breast cancer.”
Another man Derrick Abraham who also went through the process says although quite frightening at first, he is now relieved not having the disease.
Getting the family to test
He is now thinking about his female family members, hoping to support them going forward.
“I feel relieved but I am thinking about my sisters, my mother, my wife and all other females, if they haven’t tested yet, what are their chances? So I will encourage everyone, all females and even males to get tested because early detection saves lives.”
Breast cancer is the type of cancer that forms in the cells of breasts. It is commonly found in women and in Ghana it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women.
The new campaign encouraging men to also test is a shift from traditional mind-set about the disease.
Men in focus
Dr. Victoria Partey Newman of the Trust hospital in Accra said men have become a major point of focus because no one is immune to the cancer.
“So breast cancer is not respecter of person, it can happen to anyone, it can happen to both male and females, more in females because our breasts are more developed but yet can happen in males.
WHO has shown a statistics of one percent of males worldwide having incidents of breast cancer, so it is best to face what you are afraid of.
So I know breast cancer is something that most people don’t want to mention about, it has been stigmatized, people say you are cursed, it is a sin, but it is high time we break that mystery and know that breast cancer is real,” Newman said.
Dr. Newman is excited by the desire from men to know more about the disease.
She is hoping this could spark a new wave of awareness among Ghanaians to help fight the stigma that comes with disease.