A few days back there was a question from one of the members of my support group. It was about a lady who had finished with her entire treatment. Even though she was free of all pain and other discomforts she was reluctant to go out and socialize. The reason was that she had had mastectomy and she was feeling uncomfortable about the looks. Her daughter had also mentioned that they had heard of a certain bra which could be worn by her mother to conceal the absence of her breast. But as they were living in a small town, they had no idea where to get it in her place and even the doctors could not guide her. Immediately I sent her the phone numbers of outlets in Mumbai which sell the prosthetics and mastectomy bras. I informed her even wigs are available which could be shipped to the customer. The mother and daughter were very thankful for the info.
Now, a couple of days back, I came to know about an old friend of mine who lives in a small town down south and that she had completely withdrawn from society as she had lost her hair. She had stayed confined to the house till her hair had regrown.
These two incidents made me think. As it is in a country like India where 75000 women die of breast cancer every year, not only the awareness is low. but access to information is also poor. In the two instances that I have cited, the patients are from affluent and educated families, so that proper treatment has been carried out and lives have been saved. But the other aspects like buying a wig or a prosthetic bra was not possible.
There is another angle to the issue. May be because the women cited in both the cases have married children who do not have much time for seeing to their social needs. Aren’t women above 50 dumped as old and treated as if they have no right to think about their looks?
I think awareness should be spread among the young people about the social and emotional needs of the elderly. They should be made to understand, just fulfilling the medical needs and sending the parents on pilgrimages or holidays is just not enough.