Dr S M Bose is an oncologist and has been interested in the management of breast cancer for the past four decades. His book ” WINNERS OF BREAST CANCER Stories of Courage, Grit, and Hope” is a collection of 16 inspiring narratives of breast cancer patients and their courageous fight with cancer and life.  Dr Bose shares with us idea behind the writing of the book.

Globally, breast cancer is the most common cancer seen in females, particularly in the developed countries. In India, the incidence is second only to cancer of the cervix, but with the control of this disease and perhaps with the advent of modernization, breast cancer has surpassed the incidence of cancer of the cervix, particularly in metropolitan cities.

In my five decades of career that has witnessed a multitude of cancer and breast cancer cases, I have realized that though all cancer diseases are serious and problematic; however, breast cancer has an altogether different significance as the organ of the breast is identified with beauty, grace, and elegance. Breast cancer is thus associated with lots of psychological upheaval in the life of the affected patient.

Breast cancer is not preventable but early detection and proper treatment can cure 95 per cent of patients.

Fortunately, management of breast cancer can have a very favourable outcome, only if the disease is detected in its early stage and is treated by competent specialists. Breast cancer is not preventable but early detection and proper treatment can cure 95 per cent of patients.

The prevalence of breast cancer in India is less than what is seen in the western countries, but the death rate is much higher in India; the sole reason being the detection of the disease at a later stage and the non-availability of optimal treatment. Self-examination of the breast, clinical examination by a specialist and regular mammography (sono mammography for youngsters and digital for elderly patients) can detect the disease at an early stage when the outcome of the treatment is very favourable.

Every breast cancer patient is not the same, hence their treatments and their journeys are all unique, which can be a learning for everyone—not only for individuals who are suffering from it, but also for every individual who needs to be aware to detect it at the earliest. It was with this thought in mind that my recent book, WINNERS OF BREAST CANCER: Stories of Courage, Grit, and Hope has been written.

Every breast cancer patient is not the same, hence their treatments and their journeys are all unique, which can be a learning for everyone—not only for individuals who are suffering from it, but also for every individual who needs to be aware to detect it at the earliest.

The book has stories penned by the women who have had to face breast cancer, and their narratives take us through their journeys—focussing on how they detected it, to how they made mistakes which could have been prevented, to their rapport with the treating doctor, to the support that they received from family and society (and in a few cases when they didn’t receive it too) and their management of breast cancer. The 16 stories in the book penned by the patients also talk about the courage and strength one needs to gather at this time.

The book also has tales of long-term survivors for more than three decades. These stories dispel the myth that the survival of breast cancer patients is not long and conclusively establish that breast cancer can be treated satisfactorily.

A significant change has come in the management of breast cancer over the years, as well as in the surgical approach to it.

A significant change has come in the management of breast cancer over the years, as well as in the surgical approach to it. Patients are now being treated with multi-modality treatment protocol, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy; this has improved the overall outcome.

Surgically, it is now possible to remove only a part of the breast and preserve the shape and size of the breast (which is called breast conservation surgery); however, this is done only by a few surgeons and only in a few recognized centres. This is in sharp contrast to the age-old procedure of radical or modified radical mastectomy (MRM) that was being done for over 100 years. The overall results in both the approaches remain the same.

Another step that is being realized and stressed is the regular lifetime follow-up of the patient to detect and manage the recurrences that may occur.

Dwelling on the above, the book also has a comprehensive chapter on Facts that you should know about breast cancer, with detailed information about all its aspects.

Breast cancer can produce ripples in the life of a patient and her family, but the advent of new technology and expertise have brought in brighter sunshine. WINNERS OF BREAST CANCER celebrates the spirit of these patients and helps us change our mindset about breast cancer and become a little less terrified of it.

Dr S. M. Bose is one of India’s leading surgeons. Winner of three national awards, in his career as a surgeon spanning over five decades, he has had a special interest in the management of breast cancer. WINNERS OF BREAST CANCER: Stories of Courage, Grit, and Hope, edited by him and co-edited by Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta, was launched on 10th March 2018 at PGIMER, Chandigarh. The book is priced at INR 295. 

Also Read: Shreya Sen-Handley On Writing About Her Body And Its Imperfections

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