Sri Lanka’s cancer cases have doubled over the past 25 years, with a parallel rise in cancer mortality, causing a real burden. The country’s cancer services are predominantly provided free of charge, for which the government has to spend a considerable amount of expenditure. When it comes to the preventive and early detection, the efforts of Sri Lanka’s health care system are highly commendable at present. However, advancements in hospital facilities, treatment procedures are necessary to overcome the increasing number of cancer cases, which is one of the major challenges faced by country due to the financial, emotional and social impact this particular disease creates. This increasing burden has urged the need tostreamline treatment procedures such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and expand these services to outstations.
It is reported that around 30,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year and the mortalities have leaped to 17000. The female population accounts for approximately 15,500 new cases and 8000 deaths per year. Out of the diagnosed patients, at least 80% will require chemotherapy as a single or treatment combination. One of the most worrying aspects of chemotherapy treatment is the possible hair loss, which is identified as a common side effect. This stressful side effect is a traumatic experience for women who have to undergo treatments for several months. It is no doubt that the hair is a precious jewel and a reflection of unique beauty of a woman. Hence, hair loss can be challenging due to many reasons such as appearance change, psychological effects, loss of self-esteem and confidence and more. The hair loss concern has left many women to lose hope and interest in their routine lives.
When it comes to the psychological ramifications of hair loss, being afraid of social interaction, behavioural changes, feeling of rejection and isolation are major concerns that hinder the freedom and everyday life style. Women going through hair loss have a bad feeling that people observe them awkwardly, so they are tempted to avoid functions such as gatherings, parties and other such activities. It is obvious that many women who go through this situation find it difficult to lead their normal lives at workplace, when dealing with people, etc. Having to go through hair loss not only affects the patient, but also the family members, especially children might be afraid of the appearance change of their mother or the family member. Unfortunately, this hair loss concern leads to marital issues such as divorces and separations.
Even though the effects of this particular concern are visible throughout the society, a viable solution seems far away. All cancer patients need support and caring from the society to go back to the normal life. However, the society is conditioned to view them through a pathetic lens rather than encouraging them to move forward. When a woman is spotted with short hair, the reaction of the people says a lot about how they feel about that patient. That sudden change is registered in the mind of the patient, which leads to an emotional collapse.
Whilst the society understands the need to support these patients by offering the seat during public transport and other such physical instances, the emotional support is what they need the most. One of the major reasons for the emotional collapse is the lack of health literacy among the public that has led to social stigma surrounding cancer. This has caused specially women to stay away from their comfort zones. Therefore, it is highly essential to focus on the emotional wellbeing of these patients and instil a sense of belong and support for them to move forward with courage. When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, all family members, relatives and friends have a big role to play in encouraging the patient, ensuring that he/she is happy and beingsupportive to overcome the mental trauma. Let’s stand together with these lovely human beings and help to make their lives better.