23rd October, 2019 was declared Breast Cancer Awareness Day on the LUG campus, and all students and staff were encouraged to wear pink to show support of the fight against breast cancer. The LunchBox Society, an all-female society focused on female empowerment and discussion of women’s issues organized a health talk on the day.
The guest speaker was Mrs Juliette Mills-Lutterodt, breast cancer survivor and founder of Pink For Africa. Juliette began her talk by commending the gentlemen who attended the talk, most of who were in pink as well, and mentioned that men usually don’t show interest in discussions on the subject, however men actually get breast cancer as well.
Juliette shared information on her foundation, which offers support to women who have been diagnosed with, and at various stages of fighting breast cancer. She stated that the youngest woman helped by Pink For Africa was twenty four years old, however the youngest girl she had read about was only ten years old. Juliette’s family had a history of breast cancer, and unfortunately her mother died five years ago from the same disease, after helping her fight and beat her cancer.
In her talk Juliette educated the audience on Triple Negative Breast Cancer, which was discovered in West Africa. Research has shown that this type of cancer can be more aggressive and difficult to treat. Also, the cancer is more likely to spread and recur. The stage of breast cancer and the grade of the tumor will influence a person’s prognosis.
Mrs Mills-Lutterodt stressed on the importance of early detection, and made sure to emphasize that not every lump found in the breasts is a sign of breast cancer. She spoke about the stigma and misconceptions around mastectomies, with one of the most common in Africa being that if you remove your breast after finding a lump, you will die. Juliette has had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, and candidly spoke about her experience. She stressed that having a mastectomy greatly increases chances of survival, and encouraged everyone to regularly examine themselves in order to be able to notice easily if there is a lump.
Before she ended, Juliette stressed on the importance of emotional support, especially from men, when females are diagnosed with breast cancer. She stated that breast cancer is not the death sentence it used to be, and it is important to be properly educated in order to know what the symptoms are, and what to do when you find a lump. Juliette then demonstrated how to conduct a self-examination, and there was a question and answer session with the audience. During this session Juliette stated that a healthy diet is very important, and soursop for example has been proven to fight cancer. She also stated that sugar is like fertilizer to cancer, and encouraged everyone to be mindful of what they put into their bodies, and to exercise regularly as well.
In conclusion, Juliette stated that in hindsight being diagnosed with breast cancer at 40 was a wake up call for her, allowed her to give back in ways she would never have before, and was in fact the best thing that happened to her.