BREAST cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in T&T. So prevalent is this disease that an entire month — October — has been designated Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
One of the most outspoken advocates for breast cancer awareness here in T&T is Marcia Miranda. The soca parang queen came face to face with her own mortality back in 2004, when she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. After two years of intensive treatment, which included radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, she received the news that she was cancer-free.
Miranda may have survived cancer, but she knows lessening breast cancer fatalities requires advocacy and action. That’s why her mission to raise awareness of this insidious disease continues to this day.
Breast cancer awareness is a broad term, but it implies much more than simply knowing about breast cancer; it includes taking the all-important step of getting screened. The singer and activist has used every platform available to her to encourage women to do research and get screened.
“We’re hoping that women will remember that early detection via screening is the best way to treat this disease. The earlier, the better,” said Miranda. “We have also noticed that once people become aware and start to do research. That takes away some of the stigma and fear around breast cancer.”
Miranda said some women might have discovered a lump while doing a self-examination, but are afraid to get it checked out because they fear the worse.
“But detecting cancer in its early stage means that you stand a better chance of being treated. On the other hand, if you sit there and let it fester, then the outcome will be worse,” she said.
Two years after Miranda initially felt a lump in her breast, she was diagnosed with stage 3B breast cancer, which meant that at that point the cancer had already begun to metastasise. She is a survivor today —thanks to rounds of intense treatment.
“I was lucky, but I don’t want women to get to that stage. If someone has been diagnosed with cancer, I want it to be at stage one, because then they stand a better chance at getting treated and beating the cancer,” she said.
If getting screened for breast cancer makes you anxious or afraid, take along a trusted friend or family member for additional support, advised Miranda.
“I know that after hearing the word ‘malignant’, you don’t remember anything else, and the only thought that’s running through your mind is that you’re going to die.
“But if you take someone with you, that person is likely to remember what was said and ask questions. Some people become almost like a child again. They lose their strength, confidence and independence. That’s why it’s important to have someone to hold your hand and talk things through,” she said.
Being a breast cancer awareness advocate has brought with it many rewards.
“It has made a difference not only in my life, but in other people’s lives, too,”she said.
Miranda said even though the pandemic has had severe economic repercussions, there are those who still see the importance of making monetary donations to the Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society. These donations and the money collected from fund-raisers are essential because they help subsidise the cost of cancer screenings.
Miranda has been associated with the TTCS for several years and encourages persons to volunteer their time and resources at the organisation.
Miranda is optimistic that women are becoming more self-aware. Knowledge is power; by doing research, one can be better prepared to meet any eventuality, she added.
Although the pandemic has consumed much of our attention over the past 19 months, Miranda is reminding women that breast cancer remains a serious threat.
Besides advocating for early screening, Miranda is also calling on women to exercise regularly and get their recommended daily dose of veggies and fruits. Spirituality is also equally important, she said.
“Your spirituality keeps you grounded, sane and peaceful,” she said.
The entertainment industry has been among those hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, and Miranda is no exception. Later this month she’ll be launching her very own micro business and ponche a crème liquor.
And the songstress will also be returning to the entertainment scene with new music. She will be singing on a riddim with Minister in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning.
Miranda will also be releasing her cover of “Parang Jam”, which was originally sung by Sandra Hamilton.
Fans of her music will be happy to know that Miranda will also be appearing on a track with three other popular artistes which will be making its debut at the end of October.