Fighting the other cancer… the cancer of shame

[15-07-2013 04:32 PM]

By HRH Princess Dina Mired

As we work towards eradicating cancer, one of the most important and noble causes of our time, we must not forget to fight a cancer of another kind: the cancer of shame, criticism and ridicule.

I recently read an article posted on two different websites with two different headlines. One headline was supportive, encouraging and inspiring: “Angelina Jolie Shows Her Body Confidence in Hawaii after Surgery” whereas the other headline was unfeeling and inhumane: “Angelina Jolie without Her Breasts in Hawaii.”

It seems that the media has overlooked the fact that the young actress Angelina Jolie, despite her fame and beauty, was brave enough to share with the world that she had a preventative double mastectomy after it was discovered that she carried the BRCA1 gene (which gave her an 89% risk of developing breast cancer).

Angelina selflessly spoke out about her mastectomy to help raise awareness and encourage other women who have the same gene that gives them such a high risk of cancer to consider taking preventative measures that could save their lives, keeping in mind that such a decision is a very personal one and not easy to make at all.

I urge us all to always remember that our religion above all is a religion of love and compassion, and that illness is a divine test, which ultimately can be a means to remind us of our purpose and to seek a closer relationship with God.

Let us also remember that the media in particular has a very important role to play in supporting humanitarian causes by raising awareness and changing the way society perceives them. Spreading the false perception that a woman who has had a mastectomy is somehow less of a woman may cause someone in the same situation to think twice about getting one that could save her life.

We must all think twice before saying anything that could make a patient who is considering a life-saving mastectomy change her mind, for fear of being criticized, socially ostracized and even ridiculed.

Let’s also put ourselves in the shoes of a woman who has had a mastectomy reading a headline which contains such hurtful language and ask ourselves: would this woman feel loved, supported and accepted? Or would she feel ashamed and humiliated?

After all if your loved one, whether your wife, mother, sister or daughter ever had a mastectomy (God forbid), you would want them to feel as encouraged and as empowered as possible.

* About Princess Dina Mired

HRH Princess Dina Mired has led the King Hussein Cancer Foundation (KHCF) in Jordan as Director General since 2002. As the mother of a cancer survivor, she knows firsthand the challenges cancer brings to patients and their families. In her capacity as Director General, she founded and developed the Fundraising and Outreach efforts of the Foundation making it one of the largest and most active NGO’s in Jordan and the region.

KHCF has succeeded in enlisting every segment of society in the fight against cancer and is now the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against cancer in Jordan. The Foundation plays a pivotal role in cancer related awareness, early detection and screening efforts nationally.

Internationally, Princess Dina is an Honorary Co-President of Harvard University’s Global Task Force for Expanded Access to Cancer Control and Care in the Developing World. She is also on the Presidential Advisory Panel of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and is an Ambassador of the UICC World Cancer Declaration Ambassadors Program. In addition, Princess Dina is a LIVESTRONG Global Envoy for the LIVESTRONG Foundation, an active member of the Clinton Global Initiative and an Honorary Member of the Mediterranean Task Force for Cancer Control in Italy.

In September 2011, HRH delivered the keynote speech on behalf of all civil society (social, civic and voluntary organizations) at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases.

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