Breast cancer survivor tells illness can be’taboo subject’ in Asian community

A breast cancer survivor says the disease is a ‘taboo subject’ in the Asian community, and that her mother’s life could have been saved had she felt less ’embarrassment’ at having the illness. 

Mother-of-two Rina Gunnoo, from Bradford, appeared on Lorraine today where she spoke to GP Dr Amir Khan about how cancer isn’t addressed enough in Asian communities. 

Rina lost her mother to the illness in the late 90s, but revealed that her mother felt ‘cultural pressures’ surrounding the disease, which meant she felt embarrassment and shame’ at her diagnosis. 

After her diagnosis she intialy didn’t want to have chemotherapy, and by the time she began treatment in the form of radiotherapy it was too late for her to change her mind.  

A breast cancer survivor says her mother's life could have been saved had she felt less 'embarrassment' at having the illness. Pictured Rina's mother with her three children

A breast cancer survivor says her mother’s life could have been saved had she felt less ’embarrassment’ at having the illness. Pictured Rina’s mother with her three children

‘There was quite a lot of cultural pressures,’ said Rina. ‘In the sense of when the doctor said she needed chemotherapy done, she didn’t want to recognise the fact she had cancer.

‘I think it was a bit of shame to the family and an embarrassment for her to have cancer, but it doesn’t work like that. You need to get help from the doctors regarding the medication and the treatment that she needs to go on.’ 

Rina explained that her mum never underwent the chemotherapy she needed, and saud that after the pain of losing a mother, she was keen not to leave her own treatment too late. 

‘My mum did go to radiotherapy at the end of it all, said Rina. ‘She didn’t have the chemotherapy.’ 

Mother-of-two Rina Gunnoo, from Bradford, appeared on Lorraine today where she spoke to GP Dr Amir Khan about how cancer isn't addressed enough in the Asian community

Mother-of-two Rina Gunnoo, from Bradford, appeared on Lorraine today where she spoke to GP Dr Amir Khan about how cancer isn’t addressed enough in the Asian community

Rina lost her mother to the illness in the late 90s, but revealed that her mother felt 'cultural pressures' surrounding the disease

Rina lost her mother to the illness in the late 90s, but revealed that her mother felt ‘cultural pressures’ surrounding the disease 

Ahead of her appearance on the show, Rina penned a message on Facebook , encouraging her friends and family to watch the show and insisting that detecting the illness early can 'save lives'

Ahead of her appearance on the show, Rina penned a message on Facebook , encouraging her friends and family to watch the show and insisting that detecting the illness early can ‘save lives’

When asked whether she felt any cultural pressures after her own diagnosis, she said:  ‘I didn’t, you don’t want to leave it too late like how my mum did.

‘She had three kids including me and and you don’t want to lose a mum at a young age, so I do suggest that you get checked out as soon as possible.’ 

Ahead of her appearance on the show, Rina penned a message on Facebook, encouraging her friends and family to watch the show, and insisting that detecting the illness early can ‘save lives’. 

‘Many people know we lost our mum with breast cancer in the early 90s,’ she wrote. ‘It is very important to get checked out by your doctor, if you have seen any change in your breast area or if you find a lump. 

Rina explained that her mum never underwent the chemotherapy she needed, but insisted that after the pain of losing a mother, she was keen not to leave her treatment too late

Rina explained that her mum never underwent the chemotherapy she needed, but insisted that after the pain of losing a mother, she was keen not to leave her treatment too late

‘Detecting breast cancer early can save lives. Sometimes in the Asian community we don’t talk about breast cancer.

‘Please watch Lorraine on ITV tomorrow morning on how this can be a taboo subject in Asian community. We will also be discussing my mum’s experiences & mine on this subject.’ 

Rina appeared alongside Dr Amir’s own mother, whose life was saved after she was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago.  

She told that while some Asian women may feel  ’embarrassed’ about having their breasts checked, there is nothing in her religion that prevents her from having medical attention. 

Rina appeared alongside Dr Amir's own mother, whose life was saved after she was diagnosed with breast cancer five-years ago.

Rina appeared alongside Dr Amir’s own mother, whose life was saved after she was diagnosed with breast cancer five-years ago.

She told that while some Asian women may feel 'embarrassed' about having their breasts checked, there is nothing in her religion that prevents her from having medical attention. Pictured, Dr Amir with his family

She told that while some Asian women may feel ’embarrassed’ about having their breasts checked, there is nothing in her religion that prevents her from having medical attention. Pictured, Dr Amir with his family 

‘I didn’t have any symptoms and I went every year for a mammogram,’ she told.  ‘I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was just starting a new job and I was shocked.’ 

Dr Amir asked: ‘People from Asian backgrounds don’t go as much as they should, what would you say to those people?’ 

‘I think the must go’, she replied, ‘because woman feel embarrassed to show that private part of their body and that’s why they don’t like it. 

‘But there’s nothing to embarrassed about, and our religion allows us if you are suffering and need medicine, even if you can’t find a female doctor.’  

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