Crowdfunding for Breast Cancer

Crowdfunding for Breast Cancer

It seldom features on the crowdfunding sites in India, yet this is a country that is staring at a breast cancer epidemic. It is the cancer with the highest number of casualties, and they are going to only keep on rising. In 2012 alone, more than 70,000 women were reported to have died of breast cancer, and the number is likely to hit as high as 76,000 by 2020.

As of 2016, the total number of new reported breast cancer cases were 1.5 lakh. The worst part is that the average age of those affected by the disease is to come down from 50 to 30 years.

And yet in spite of the huge numbers, breast cancer happens to be among the least talked about disease in this country. Why is it so?

Mostly because it is a ‘women’s issue’. Women’s breasts are highly sexualized organs worldwide, so much so that women still have a lot of difficulty doing in public the job the breasts were meant for- breastfeeding their babies.

While this issue has started to get addressed in the white countries, they are yet to attain steam in a country as conservative and patriarchal as India. Only very recently a magazine and an actress were sued by hardliners for promoting breastfeeding in public. Under such circumstances, publicly addressing an issue like breast cancer remains limited mostly to the urban, upper-class sections in the country.

Also, a recent study has shown that India has a higher number of genetically linked breast cancer incidences. Such breast cancers occur due to the defective genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, which can be found in both men and women and can cause cancers in both the breasts and ovaries.

The presence of these genes can be detected only through screening, which costing between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 35,000, are not something underprivileged people struggling to put food into their mouths could possibly care about.

And this is where crowdfunding comes in. Crowdfunding for cancer can be used in a number of ways- conducting awareness public events like marathons and street plays, conducting awareness workshops targeting vulnerable groups, and even in some cases for example in areas of high frequency, conducting genetic screening tests and taking appropriate measures to save a few lives.

And then there is, of course,cancer crowdfunding to help with the treatment of those women already affected with the disease. This is the trickier bit as, like all cancers, breast cancer is expensive, with it costing anything between Rs. 2.5 lakhs to Rs. 20 lakhs, putting all kinds of treatment away from the access of the underprivileged.

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