By 2020, India a country in which a large portion of the

Why Women In India Aren’t Getting the Cancer Treatment They Deserve

It’s a sunny Sunday morning, and I’m surrounded by Indian women wearing saris, spandex, canada goose outlet store new york and tracheostomy tubes. All of them are eager to canada goose vest outlet hold my hand as we walk, and canada goose outlet uk fake to tell me all about their cancer journeys and running habits.Each year, the group of cancer survivors canada goose jacket outlet store walks together up stone stairs and dirt paths to the canada goose outlet in montreal top of Nandi Hills, an goose outlet canada ancient hill forest on the canada goose outlet london uk outskirts of their hometown, Banaglore, India, to share their cancer stories with the rest of the group. The “survivors’ hike” is a tradition meant to honor the cancer survivors and their family members who make up the running community of Pinkathon India’s largest women only racing circuit (3K, 5K, 10K, and half marathon) as it heads canada goose outlet parka into its annual race. As an American journalist interested in learning about Pinkathon, I feel lucky to be welcomed on the excursion.But now, canada goose outlet real I’m feeling less like a reporter and more like a woman, a feminist, and someone canada goose outlet toronto who lost her best friend to cancer. Tears stream down my face as I listen to one canada goose outlet in vancouver woman, Priya Pai, struggle to get out her story amid sobs.”Every month I was going to my doctor complaining of new symptoms and canada goose outlet michigan they were saying, ‘This girl is mad,'” recalls the 35 year old lawyer. “They thought I was exaggerating and seeking attention. The doctor told my husband to remove the Internet from our computer so that I would stop looking up and canada goose outlet ottawa creating symptoms.”It took three and a half years after first approaching her doctors with debilitating fatigue, abdominal pains, and blackened stool for doctors to finally diagnose her with colon cancer.And once the diagnosis marking the start of more than a dozen surgeries came in 2013, “people canada goose outlet online store review said I was cursed,” Pai says. It is also a tight knit running community that raises cancer awareness and canada goose coats uk strives to turn women into their own best health advocates, with comprehensive training programs, social media communities, weekly meet ups, lectures from doctors and other experts and, of course, the survivors’ hike. This sense of community and unconditional support is vital to Indian women.While, ultimately, the goal of Pinkathon is to expand women’s health into a national conversation, for some women like Pai, the Pinkathon community is their first and only safe space to say the word “cancer.” Yes, really.India’s Unspoken Cancer EpidemicIncreasing conversation about cancer in India is crucially canada goose outlet mississauga important. By 2020, India a country in which a large portion of the population is impoverished, uneducated, and lives in rural villages or slums without health canada goose stockists uk care will be home to a fifth of the world’s cancer patients. Yet, more than half of Indian women ages 15 to 70 canada goose outlet black friday don’t know the risk factors for breast cancer, the most prevalent form of cancer in India. That may be why half of the women diagnosed with the condition in canada goose outlet jackets India die. (In the United States, that figure sits at about one in six.) Experts also believe that a large portion if not a majority of cancer cases go undiagnosed. People die from cancer without even knowing they had it, without an opportunity to seek treatment.”More than half of the cases I see are in canada goose outlet uk sale stage three,” says leading Indian oncologist Kodaganur S. Gopinath, founder of the Bangalore Institute of Oncology and director canada goose outlet in canada of Healthcare Global Enterprise, India’s largest provider of cancer care. “Pain is often not the first symptom, and if there’s no pain, people say, ‘Why should I go to the doctor?'” He notes that routine women’s cancer screening canada goose outlet los angeles measures such canada goose outlet nyc as Pap smears and mammograms are anything but common. That’s due to both financial constraints and a bigger cultural issue.So why don’t people, particularly women, talk about cancer? Some are embarrassed to discuss their bodies with family members or physicians. Others would prefer to die than burden or bring shame to their families. For instance, while the Pinkathon offers all of its participants free health checkups and mammograms, only 2 percent of registrants take advantage of the offer. Their culture has taught women that they only matter in their roles as mothers and wives, and that to prioritize themselves is not only selfish, it’s a disgrace.Meanwhile, many women simply don’t want to know if they have cancer, as a diagnosis can ruin their daughters’ prospects of marriage. Once a woman is labeled as having cancer, her entire family is tainted.Those women who do advocate for themselves to receive a proper diagnosis and, subsequently, treatment face incredible obstacles. In Pai’s case, getting cancer treatment meant draining her and her husband’s savings. (The couple maxed out the health insurance benefits provided by both of their plans for her care, but less than 20 percent of the country has any form of health insurance, according to National Health Profile 2015.)And when her husband approached his parents (who live with the couple, as is customary in India), they told her husband that canada goose outlet winnipeg address he should save his money, cease treatment, and remarry following what would be her imminent death.Culturally, it is thought that there are canada goose uk far better things to spend one’s money on than a canada goose outlet toronto factory woman’s health.When canada goose outlet online store the Finish Line Is Just the BeginningIn India, this stigma surrounding both women’s health and cancer has been passed Canada Goose Outlet on for generations. canada goose kensington parka uk That’s why Pai and her husband, Pavan, have worked so hard to teach their now 6 year old son, Pradhan, to grow up to be an ally for women. After all, Pradhan was the one who dragged Pai into the canada goose outlet new york emergency ward back in 2013 after she collapsed in the hospital’s parking garage. And when his parents couldn’t make one of his school awards ceremonies because Pai was in surgery at the time, he stood up on stage in front of his entire school and told them that she was undergoing surgery for cancer.

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