Playing an active role in breast health care

Dr. Ilana Kadmon (Israel, AC 79-81)

My goal is to encourage women to learn their bodies, be aware of changes in their breasts, and avail themselves of breast cancer screening and detection opportunities. This important message needs to cross all international borders and cultural and ethnic barriers.

After graduating Atlantic College, I studied Nursing for a BA degree at the Hadassah and the Hebrew University School of Nursing and then continued postgraduate studies for a PhD degree at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Once completing these programs, I returned to Israel to work on the development of the role of Clinical Nurse Specialists in Breast Cancer Care, who help and support women diagnosed with breast cancer. This was a pioneering effort in Israel and was found valuable not only for women suffering from the disease but also their family and dear ones.

Breast cancer is one of the major health concerns of women in the Western world, and is now also a growing concern in the developing world. In countries such as the US and Scandinavia, the rate of breast cancer is as high as 100 per 100, 000 women as opposed to Mexico, for example, where only less than 20 in every 100, 100 women will be diagnosed. However, the incidence of breast cancer is climbing steadily in countries that hardly experienced the disease before. This may be due to the Western life style such as diet, urban living and childbearing habits. These life style changes have now reached the Eastern part of the world (you can find MacDonald’s in every corner in China now). Therefore, breast cancer is a concern of women all over the globe.

Women can help play a role in reducing their own risk of breast cancer by being conscious of life style changes such as a healthy diet, exercise, no smoking and minimizing alcohol intake. However, there are unfortunately factors that are not within our control such as genetics and hormonal influences and environmental influences that also play a role in breast cancer development. Therefore, women should do whatever they can to make informed choices and participate in health care decision making. This includes screening mammography, clinical breast exam by their health care provider and being aware of changes in their breast.

I would like to conclude with several take away messages: First, women should become familiar with their bodies and be informed about what role they can play in their health care; second, today, a diagnosis of breast cancer is not a death sentence. More individuals are living full and valuable lives after breast cancer treatment than ever before.

Dr. Ilana Kadmon is a Breast Care Clinical Nurse Specialist in Hadassah Medical Organization, Jerusalem, Israel.

-United World College Student Magazine-

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