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To fight breast cancer, be aware
According to the latest statistics of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 100,000 breast cancer cases are detected every year in India. More than 70 per cent of these cases are diagnosed at an advance stage. Alarmingly, it is projected that this number could double by 2020
At the age of 6, Farah first accompanied her gynaecologist mother to the hospital where she was working. The little one sat patiently through the day, as woman after woman walked through the doors of the clinic and shared her joys or agonies with her mother. What Farah observed that day was her mother’s indefatigable effort to reach out to her patients – whether it was reducing their suffering through medicines or by simply giving them a chance to talk about their lives. Farah came back to her mother’s clinic often after that day. She was inspired to do similar work.
Over two decades later, women remain central to Farah’s life. An expert in breast diseases, Dr Farah Arshad is committed to raising awareness about breast cancer. Says the young doctor, “During my internship as an endocrine surgeon I observed that there was a dearth of women breast diseases specialists. Women patients wanted women doctors to examine them. Eight out of ten women patients came to me. Although it was a nightmare because I was over-loaded with work, the experience helped me choose my field. Most women doctors become gynaecologists or paediatricians; not many opt for specializing in breast diseases and I decided to take it up as my area of expertise,” Farah said.
In 1999, when Farah did her Masters in Endocrine Surgery from Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh (UP), there was no dedicated branch for breast diseases. Four years later, she got married to Dr Afzal Arshad and shifted base to Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh (UP), since her husband had been posted at the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in the city. It was here that she got the opportunity to specialize in breast surgeries.
According to the latest statistics of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 100,000 breast cancer cases are detected every year in India. More than 70 per cent of these cases are diagnosed at an advance stage. Alarmingly, it is projected that this number could double by 2020.
As a State that has nearly 10 million women (Census 2011), the situation in UP is particularly critical. The ICMR numbers reveal that in 2010, 8,882 women succumbed to breast cancer here, making it the State with the second highest number of deaths caused by breast cancer in the country. Reveals Farah, “During my training years, the women who came to me with breast cancer were in their forties. Today I see that the disease is catching women at an early age – between 25-30 years – especially in urban areas. This is distressing as India has a large population of youngsters.”
The factors fuelling the disease among young urban women include the stresses of a fast-paced life, late marriage, the prolonged use of oral contraceptives and reduced breast feeding. Most of these causes play havoc with women’s hormones and increase their vulnerability to breast cancer. Increasing alcoholism among urban women is an added problem.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organization (WHO), has pointed to the fact that cervical, stomach and breast cancers account for 41 per cent of cancer deaths in women in rural and urban areas. Unfortunately, while the disease is fast turning into an epidemic, especially in the urban centres, there is increasing concern over the lack of well-established breast cancer screening programmes nationwide. Serious alarm was raised by experts at the first-ever International Congress of the Association of Breast Surgeons of India (ABSICON) held in May 2012 in Hyderabad.
Dr Farah Arshad has understood this distressing situation well. In fact, she has been doing extensive work towards raising awareness about the disease ever since her first posting at a private medical college in UP, where she had launched her first initiative. She elaborates, “What motivated me was the great lack of awareness about this disease in the majority of women. Most of them consulted homoeopaths for lumps in their breast. There were two reasons for this - first, in a patriarchal society women feel guilty about spending money on themselves and homoeopathy is inexpensive; second, it does not involve any physical examination. Women avoid going to male doctors for such diseases,” says Dr Farah.
Incidentally, UP, the most populous State in the country has just two women breast diseases specialists, and Dr Farah Arshad is one of them. To overcome the hurdles in tackling this killer disease, Farah decided to focus on education. Breast cancer, she says, is completely curable if diagnosed at the first stage. She started Project Lakshya, with support from the Cancer Aid Society in October 2011. True to its name, the project targeted college-going girls. The specialist talked to the students about breast cancer, self examination and treatment. In a year, Farah has reached out to more than 2,000 girls in their teens.
Her success with the young motivated her to take her awareness programme to the next level. From March this year Project Lakshya covered women in the rural areas. Camps were set up, under the community management programme, with an aim to educate rural women about breast diseases. Women were taught self breast examination as well as motivated to go to the nearest health centres for regular check ups. Free check-up facilities, including complimentary ultrasound, were offered and during investigations if a woman showed symptoms of breast disease, she was referred to Medical College for further diagnosis and treatment. Over 50 villages in and around Lucknow were covered under this drive.
“These two initiatives – one in the urban scenario and the other in a rural setting – made it clear that where awareness was concerned there was no real difference. It was low in both places. Women in general were shy of talking about their problems and they did not want to go to male doctors for checkups. Besides, for women their own health is their last priority,” reveals the medical practitioner, who did her breast surgery training in Singapore where it is mandatory for all women to go through breast screening.
A dedicated surgeon, Dr Farah Arshad does not want to restrict her awareness work to screening and treatment. Research has been a major area of interest for her. In fact, she hopes that her research papers would spur the state government into formulating precautionary measures. For instance, her paper ‘Adolescent Girls’ Breast Screening In Rural Areas’ was aimed at motivating the government to start programmes in rural areas, while the purpose of ‘Malignant Breast Cancer in Adolescent Girls’ was to compel the state to include breast diseases in school curriculum.
She has also persuaded private hospitals in Lucknow where she is working to include mammograms in their health package. The reason for such an emphasis on breast cancer, explains Farah, is the fact that after being the world’s capital of diabetes, India is now dangerously poised to lead in breast cancer cases as well. Thankfully, spreading awareness on the issue has become a priority – initiatives like the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, marked worldwide in October – are making a marked difference.
Says Dr Farah Arshad, “Three years back, hardly a couple of patients came to me in a month. Nowadays, the number has jumped to more 150. Most of the cases are treated only with medicines because they are diagnosed early. This has happened only because of rising awareness.”
(Women’s Feature Service)
This NGO helps war wounded lead a normal life
A soldier disabled in war need not go into a shell. He can and should lead the life of a soldier, which is what a 10-year-old NGO of ex-servicemen is working towards and which is set to open its doors in southern India later this month.
“The War Wounded Foundation (WWF) was founded in 2002. It is into the long-term rehabilitation of armed forces personnel who get disabled in a war or a war-like situation and get discharged from service,” its executive officer, Lt. Col (retd) Gulshan Kumar, said on the phone from New Delhi.
The foundation, which currently operates in northern India, has a membership of 3,200 ex-servicemen and has rehabilitated around 100 defence personnel disabled in war or war- like situations/counter-insurgency operations.
“There is no membership fee. The basic aim of the foundation is to gain visibility for the war wounded,” Kumar said and added, “Normally a soldier goes back to his native place after getting discharged from service due to disablement. The foundation helps them to get visibility and rebuild their lives.”
Kumar said help for soldiers pours from various quarters during a war or war-like situation but then peters out.
“After the (1999) Kargil war, there was plenty of help. While any help is welcome there should also be a sustainable livelihood model for wounded soldiers to live like soldiers,” Kumar said.
That is not an easy task.
First, the wounded soldier has to be motivated to get back into the mainstream. Then one has to scout for an organization that is willing to use the services of the wounded soldiers.
“Given a normal soldier’s background, he does not have the inclination to go into business,” Kumar said.
According to Kumar, companies like Ambuja Cements, Chambal Fertilisers, ONGC, Apollo Tyres, Shell India and Pepsico India, among others, have supported the foundation.
“Ambuja Cements has given sub-dealerships to some of our members,” he said. In the corporate sector, barring a few, others want something in return when they extend a helping hand to the wounded soldiers, Kumar said.
In order to find the discharged soldiers different livelihood opportunities, WWF has started imparting training in soft skills like computer literacy, English language and others.
Though the Foundation is a decade old, it has been operating in northern India all these years and was not able to expand primarily due of lack of data on war wounded.
“We have been appealing to various regiments for data about war wounded defence personnel. Many a time we get it and sometimes we don’t,” Kumar said.
On the Foundation’s southern foray, Kumar said the launch is scheduled Oct 20 at the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai.
The Indian Army chief, General Bikram Singh, has agreed to be the chief guest at the launch event, said Kumar.
At the event, war disabled personnel from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka would be honoured and their grievances would be forwarded to the appropriate authorities.
Hairstyle and Makeup: Beauty looks for Durga Puja
Here, comes the most awaited festival of the year, Durga Puja. Durga Puja is a festival to mark the victory of Ma Durga over the demon Mahis Asur. In West Bengal, it is celebrated with much fervor and the most important days of the celebration are saptami, ashtami, navami and dashami.
You need to look gorgeous on the festive days,So, here are the looks that will take you through the pandals in style.
Have you done fabric accessorizing in school? Remember those art and craft classes where you were made to create small pretty things with paper, thread and fabric! This puja let nostalgia wrap your heart. Experiment with accessories made of acrylic yarns.
(i) Cut small but equal pieces of acrylic yarns and make a bunch.
(ii) Create a knot on the strands with another piece of yarn.
(iii) Now for the bindi, wear the big, round bindi on your beautiful forehead preferably in red; bong style.
(iv) Eyes should be highlighted with black kohl.
(v) Go for soft colours for the lips.
You have been invited to a party on the festive days and you need to look traditional as well as flamboyant.
(i) Tie up your hair in a bun and add some sparkle to your hair with flowers and jewellery.
(ii) Coiffed hairstyle would add an old-world charm to your look.
(iii) Add large danglers to your accessory list.
(iv) Sport pretty pink lips in matte and you are done.
(v) Apply kumkum on your forehead in the middle of your eyebrows; place a large bindi and adorn with tiny ones. Use stoned ones and create an arty bindi.
Side-swept hair is in vogue this season with fashionistas sporting this look.
(i) Tie your hair in a messy braid to one side of your head. It looks gorgeous with traditional and western look.
(ii) Smoky eyes go well with the messy side-braid.
(iii) Bronzer and gloss will add finesse.
(iv) Look like Madhuri; curl your locks and straighten the lower half.
(v)Clear face, a red bindi with a touch of nude gloss will add that much needed sparkle to your face.
(vi) This look is lavish so, wear something extravagant and do add those opulent accessories to it.
Bengalis love to sport the scarlet hue. Look stunning this festive season with this look.
(i) Clear your face and apply the right primer.
(ii) Hide all the ungrateful spots with a concealer.
(iii) Dust your face with loose powder using a thick brush.
(iv) Wear a red dot on your forehead and rim your eyes with kohl.
(v) Crimson lips will add drama; you can also go for light tints of red.
(vi) Keep your hair open and give it a wet look.
The Dawn- Look
Look bewitching like Chitrangda in smoky eyes and a sexy smile.
(i) Sport braids in any way you like. Tie it in a bun or keep it side-swept. The evening will speak of your braids.
(ii) Chitrangda’s smoky eyes and toffee-tinted lips look dazzling in her yellow skin tone. Carry this look with a salwar or anarkali. You are sure to turn heads.
(iii) Scarlet lips!. Your festive moods are many so, try this look to show off your rebellious side. Out-of-the bed look will complement your scarlet lips and bold image.
You want to be the centre of attention, is it not? Try this look for the fulfilment of your desire.
Use your artistic bent of mind to doll up your face. Color your style!
(i) Highlight your eyes but, not with just a highlighter. Bring out the eye shadows and apply not only on your eye lids but also above it.
(ii) Keep the rest of your face clean and accentuate one of your features.
(iii) Either wear a dramatic bindi or do art on your face.
(iv) Keep your hair pulled up in a chignon.
(v) Wear a nose-ring for a high sex-appeal. (Agencies)
No mountain too high for this paraclimber
Kumar Manikandan thinks the term physically-challenged means challenging life itself. The 26-year-old paraclimber from Bangalore has never felt the handicap to be a drag or a hurdle in life — especially when he left 22 opponents from 13 countries behind to win the gold in the men’s Arthritis and Neurological Physical Disability category at the International Federation of Sport Climbers Competition (IFSC) World Championship in Paris last month.
The disability has left Manikandan’s right leg weak from thigh to knee — but not his spirit. The son of carpenter Kumar and Usha Rani, who rolls incense sticks, Manikandan had other issues to contend with. He needed to raise Rs 2 lakh to make it to the French capital.
Luckily for Manikandan, the Karnataka State Police Housing Corporation (KSPHC) paid for his passage, the General Thimmaiah National Adventure Academy contributed Rs 50,000 and his friends chipped in with another Rs 50,000.
That’s not all. He had to travel all alone and fend for himself in an alien land. The organizers didn’t even provide hospitality or transport for such a major event. “I went there alone. I stayed in a hotel in central Paris and commuted in the metro. I didn’t know French but managed with my English,” Manikandan said.
Manikandan forgot all his travails once the competition began, making sure he did not falter.
For the record, he beat his nearest competitors, Brazilian Raphael Nishimura and Frenchman Mathieu Besnard, to scale the highest on the 15-metre tall artificial rock climbing wall.
“In sports climbing, the French rating system considers the overall difficulty of the climb, taking into account the moves and the height to climb. This differs from most grading systems where one rates a climbing route according to the most difficult section,” he said.
But this is just the beginning for the man who has spent most of his time in the less than modest surroundings of Sriramapuram, notorious for gang wars. Having scaled one mountain, he has set his sights on other major goals.
“Life has been difficult for me, it is worse when people around you think that any challenge is beyond a handicapped person. But I have never allowed negative thoughts to cross my mind and that grit has allowed me to attain my goals. This is only the beginning. My aim is to participate in other disciplines earmarked internationally for the physically challenged,” Manikandan said.
His achievement is slowly sinking in for his family which has been after him to give up sports and find a decent job. His parents still can’t fathom what Manikandan has achieved.
The Karnataka State government promised him a reward of Rs.3 lakh and he is waiting for the sum.
“My parents always used to tell me to find a job, but somehow I managed to convince them that sport also can make a person big. They don’t know much about the sport or what I do, so they still don’t understand what I have achieved. The State government has told me that I would receive Rs.3 lakh but haven’t received it yet,” he said.
Manikandan has decided to give the sport a push by training rock climbing enthusiasts. He aims to erect an artificial climbing wall near his house and wants the state government to help him.
“I already train 10 people but to improve their skills and mine I want to build an international standard wall. It will be very expensive and I have already submitted a letter to the state government seeking its help,” he said.
Rock climbing as an adventure sport is catching on in the country. One example of its popularity was showcased when a 12-metre high artificial rock climbing wall was constructed at a cost of Rs 95 lakh in the idyllic Kashmir Valley.
Manikandan wants more such walls all over the country for more and more youngsters to take to adventure sport.