At the point of creation God commanded man to multiply and subdue the earth. Man has by no means fallen short of capacity to abide by God’s command. Today the world is reporting explosive demographics. China alone is inhabited by close to a whooping one-sixth of humanity. Africa has consistently registered an annual population growth rate of close to 3% posing the weighty implication that its population should expected to double in a period as short as two decades. Equally, every year the world loses masses of its population to various causes the principal being diseases that infest given sections of the human population.
Diseases such as HIVAIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and the rather recently emergent Avian flu have swept under their gales thousands of lives. One can least afford to fail to mention Cancer, the dreadful disease which ramifies in numerous different forms. (Elizabeth,G. K. 2006) Breast Cancer is the second most common type of cancer after that of the lung. It comprises close to 10. 5% of all cancer incidences and is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths across the globe. Like many other infirmities, breast cancer has to its claim staggering statistics as far as death is concerned.
In 2005 alone, it is reported to have caused 502,000 deaths worldwide, approximately 1% of all deaths that year. It is evident that breast cancer is ravaging the human population across the earth. Statistics such as the aforementioned are descriptive of an ailment that wields in itself immense potential to gradually but steadily diminish the human population should its spread go unchecked. Initially the disease was believed to victimize only those of the feminine gender. Recent research and study have proved that widely held notion to be contrary to the situation at hand.
Incidences of breast cancer in men are reported to be one hundred times less common as compared to those in women though both are said to have similar chances of survival once infected. Though the scales may appear to be leaning disproportionately on the female side, it is undeniable that their male counterparts are facing an increasing vulnerability to the disease. This is so because breasts across both genders are composed of identical tissues. (Josh, S. R. 2004) The first most common symptom of this disease is the presence of a lump that is different from the surrounding breast tissue.
That, however, only serves as the subjective symptom of breast cancer and may at times not be attributable to the disease. An objective and conclusive indication of the infection is done by employing the use of a mammogram. A positive test would identify lumps in the lymph nodes located around body organs such as the collar-bone and the armpits. Other indications aside from the lump(s) include changes in the size and shape of one’s breast, nipple inversion and skin dimpling.
As far as the identification of the infection is concerned, presence of pain is an unreliable tool though it may be indicative of the existence of other breast affiliated complications such as Mastodynia. (Paul, D. L. , Pattison, L. J. , Alison, M. L. ,& Stephen,C. D,. 2003) Many a time the breast cancer cells may end up invading the dermal lymphatics and the minute lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. This consequently results in skin inflammation, a condition known as Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). Searing pain, warmth, redness and swelling are all symptomatic of the Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
Paget’s disease of the breast is yet another complex form of the cancer. The syndrome manifests itself in skin dermatological changes such as mild flaking and redness of the nipple skin. Symptoms may include itching, a discharge from the nipple and increased sensitivity as it advances from one stage to another. The tragedy of breast cancer is that a lot often it presents itself as a metastatic disease implying it has the ability to spread beyond the original organ. Metastatic breast cancer will present symptoms that are dependant on the location of the metastasis.
Sites or body organs that are frequently victims of metastatic infection include liver, the lungs, the brain and the bones. Joint aches and pains may also be an indication of an underlying metastatic breast cancer infection. So can jaundice, inexplicable weight loss, chills, fevers and neurological problems. That notwithstanding, the aforementioned symptoms may be manifestations of other totally different infections. (Elizabeth,G. K. 2006) Breast cancer, today, is considered to be the eventuality of a blend of myriad causes ranging from hereditary to environmental. Some of the causes include:
• An abnormal growth factor indicative of an interaction between epithelial and stromal cells which conduces malignant growth of cells. • Failure of the body’s immune surveillance which ordinarily removes malignant cells throughout one’s life. • Lesions to DNA such as genetic mutations which more often than not are traceable to estrogen exposure, viral oncogenesis or ionizing radiation. • Inherited defects of the DNA repair genes. In spite of the twenty-first century knowledge and technology, the particular cause of an individual’s breast cancer is often unidentifiable.
Epidemiological research shows given trends and patterns of breast cancer across given populations but not particular individuals. The primary risk factors that have been identified include hormones, a high fat diet, alcohol intake, sex, age, child bearing and environmental factors such as exposure to hazardous radiations. Roughly 5% of all new infections of breast cancer are attributable to hereditary syndromes. Carriers of the breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, are known to be at a 30-40% risk increased risk for not only breast but also ovarian cancer.
Across the globe, breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer amongst the female population with an incidence rate more than twice that of colorectoral and cervical cancers and about three fold that of lung cancer. (Josh, S. R. 2004) The least developed countries (LDCs) of the world are reported to consistently register lower breast cancer incidence rates as compared to their more developed counterparts. A regional analysis of the globe brings the stark reality into perspective.
In the twelve world regions, the annual age-standardized incidence rates per one hundred thousand women are as provided here under: • East Asia, 18; South Central Asia, 22; South East Asia, 26; Western Asia, 28. • Sub-Sahara Africa, 22; North Africa, 28. • Eastern Europe, 49; Southern Europe, 56; Northern Europe, 73; Western Europe, 78. • South and Central America, 42; North America, 90. • Oceania, 74. Women in the United States of America have the highest incidence rates of breast cancer in the world whereas their counterparts in East Asia have the lowest.
In view of all these statistics, is there any remedy that can guarantee an infected person full recovery from breast cancer or all hope is lost once one identifies they are amongst the many who entail the statistical data that is churned from research institutions as regards the disease. Has chemotherapy furnished man with the much desired solution to this predicament? (Silver, M. 2004) The stride is certainly laudable but humanity seeks an entirely conclusive solution that assures one of full recovery.
For many breast cancer may still have the touch of an exotic disease, a disease of which they have only heard, a disease whose prospect of infecting them is a bit too far fetched and unthinkable. Circumstances conspired in a manner that would put me in a position to identify with breast cancer. Thanks to experience, I can feel the pain that excruciates their hearts, I can voice their concerns, I understand the weighty burden of attending to a breast cancer infected person to whom one has a close attachment and most of all I have had the experience of losing a loved one to breast cancer.
The story of my grandmother is not at all different from any of those who have suffered from breast cancer. The above mentioned statistics are inclusive of her. They unearth the memories of her experience so vividly in my mind. The above mentioned characteristics bare a similarity that borders on identical semblance to those she had on her body prior to her death. She found out that she had breast cancer when I was winding up my junior year at high school proceeding onto the first of the senior years. Initially she had lumps and her breast felt an unusually hard texture.
Besides, she had been experiencing some pain on her left breast for close to half a year. She visited a doctor in California who diagnosed her with the second stage of cancer which was already an aggravated situation that would demand surgery to remove her left breast as it had the ability of spreading to the right side. The surgery appeared to have been successful and my grandmother’s health showed signs of recuperation. She stayed in the United States of America for another half year for recovery as I spent a lot of time by her side attending to her as I pursued my high school studies.
About a year and a half later she became unwell again. By then her appetite had greatly diminished for close to two months and her face was pale yellow in colour. Upon going to hospital, X-Rays revealed that she was also infected with cancer in the stomach. With hindsight it sounds a lot similar to the metastatic nature of breast cancer. It was consoling to know that unlike her breast infection, it was not in the advanced stages hence immediate steps of chemotherapy were taken to avert in further complications. Throughout this period, I witnessed my grandmother endure great pain and suffering.
As though that was far from her fair share of ordeals, subsequent medical check ups a year later revealed that her cancer had spread further to infect her bones. (Silver, M. 2004) It was daylight evident that however frantic the efforts they employed the doctors knew that they were waging a losing battle. Very little other than prolonging her life remained to be done. That realization and point of acceptance yielded to possibly the most rewarding phase of my grandmother’s earthly life. It throws the weight back to my thesis statement. Many tread their feet on earth without ever knowing what perfect peace is.
Others exhaust their lives in a desperate adventure in search of it in all manner of places, from a lust for affluence to power, yet their efforts yield nothing they can show of. Many others at the point of death still have the question lingering in their minds, “What really is perfect peace and to whom or what can we attribute its acquisition? ” (Elizabeth, G. K. 2006) Perfect peace is the state of one’s heart being contented and filled with joy even in the most dire of circumstances. Perfect peace is the feeling that causes one’s face to be resplendent with joy even when they are standing in the most turbulent of times.
Perfect peace is that which surpasses the earthly conception of peace. The tempestuous nature of modern times has compelled man to view peace from the perspective of appending his signature to sheets of paper in the name of reconciliation. Nothing can be farther from the truth. It leaves no wonder that the world today has been reduced to a war-torn village whose peace has proven to be nothing more than a transient phenomenon which passes in the process of time paving the way for another spell of protracted war and animosity.
The world today knows little in anything of peace because peace between nations has unfortunately seldom stemmed from peace between individuals. Many a time it is peace restored as a matter of convenience rather than addressing the root causes of its regrettable absence in the very first place. A lot often it is peace sought between heads of state of warring nations or between heads of state and insurgents’ leaders in the interest of satisfying their own selfish motives leaving the grieving hearts of their subjects with pent-up animosity and hatred. Perfect peace is not an external creation of peace deals and agreements.
It is a creature of a man’s heart. It is a creation deep within oneself. Perfect peace is peace, foremost, with oneself then with their neighbours and environs. (Henry, S. D. & Brain, C. C. 2003) Among the many titles that were used to refer to Jesus Christ was the He was the Prince of peace. Literally, it suggests that He came to give man perfect peace in his daily living. Christ further said that He came that man may have life and abundantly so. In so saying, however, He did not promise man a life free of travails. He did not promise him skies ever blue neither did He promise him of flower-strewn pathways throughout his walk of faith.
That is a misconception that many Christians have as far as that is concerned. Perfect peace in Christ entailed and still entails numerous hurdles and sacrifices as well. A good case in point would be the rich man who went to Jesus one time. The man had all the wealth he could ever dream of having to his possession yet something apparently denied his heart the peace that it yearned for. The man sought to know what it was that he had to do to inherit life eternal. In essence the man sought the final acquisition that would gratify his heart and put it at peace with itself.
If it was wealth, he had it in abundance. If it was adherence to God’s commands he had done so beyond any shadow of doubt. But nothing would delight him more than knowing that he was worthy of fellowshipping with the family of the faithful in heaven. Christ told him to sell all the Mastodynia he had after which he would follow Him. The rich fool left the presence of the Lord not only unwilling to let go of his wealth but also sad. He had identified the source of perfect peace but walked back into the wilderness of a heart that had all that it needed yet denied itself peace within.
(Henry, S. D. & Brain, C. C. 2003) In the midst of the sadness that filled my heart due to the loss of my grandmother was one reason for joy and happiness. In the process of all the tribulation that characterized her sunset days on earth, my grandmother gave her life to the source of perfect peace. My grandmother, thanks to one of my aunts, became a Christian and tapped top the source of peace that knew no circumstances, peace that was ever present, and peace that transcended the spells of grief that would come and go.
The last stretch of her battle with cancer was indeed a painful one, one that drained her of all her strength. She may have succumbed to its laden weight eventually but every Christian knows that the Bible teaches that this world is not their home, they are but passers-by. My grandmother won the ultimate test of life by getting to establish a relationship with God. (Elizabeth, G. K. 2006) It brought her peace that knew no limits even in the face of very heavy bouts of cancer. She said with joy that angels always paid her visits while hospitalized. Nothing would ever have given her greater peace and joy.
That is what the awesome peace of Jesus Christ is all about. It would be a thought too illusory to hope that one day man will awake to a world that knows no trouble, no predicaments and no tragedies. Such will always exist. A Christian’s peace, however, is not determined by the circumstances that surround him. Christians should never lose sight of the fact that patriarchs as righteous and forthright as Job were not spared travails in their lives. Job in all his unmerited suffering did not lose the peace that always filled his heart when he was a man of affluence.
Even in the gravest of losses, Job appreciated the fact that as God gave so did He reserve the right to take away. Christians ought to take a cue from their lord and savior Jesus Christ who even in the face of His death had no emotions of vendetta against those who killed Him but asked God to forgive them. Such peace of heart sets the yard stick that Christians ought to employ in gauging the depth of theirs. Perfect peace born of Christ like living fills humanity with joy even in constraining circumstances. References: American Cancer Society. (2007).
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(2006). National Cancer InstituteWashington: Oxford Press. Marc, Silver. (2004). Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond. Washington:Published by Rodale Books. Robert J. Soiffer. (2004). Stem Cell Transplantation for Hematologic Malignancies. Newyork:Published by Humana Press World Health Organization,(2003). International Agency for Research on Cancer “WorldCancer Report”. World Health Organization (2006). “Fact sheet No. 297: Cancer”. London:London Press.