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Church leaders back breast cancer campaign

Two pastors from the African and African Caribbean Christian community are backing a national breast cancer campaign aimed at older women ...

Two pastors from the African and African Caribbean Christian community are backing a national breast cancer campaign aimed at older women ...

Co-Pastor Yvonne Brooks of New Jerusalem Apostolic Church and Pastor Celia Apeagyei-Collins, Founder of Rehoboth Foundation are supporting Public Health England's 'Be Clear on Cancer' breast cancer campaign aimed at women aged 70+.

Despite older women being at an increased risk of breast cancer, they are also more likely to delay going to their GP with breast cancer symptoms and for older black women there are often cultural and religious issues that can cause delay. The religious issues could include:

*  A belief that life and death is determined by God therefore it would make little difference whether they sought medical help
*  Preference to pray than to seek medical help
*  Seeking medical help demonstrates a lack of faith in God to heal
*  Sickness is a punishment for bad deeds

Pastor Yvonne Brooks (pictured above), co-pastor of New Jerusalem Apostolic Church, Aston, Birmingham says: "As a church leader I recognise Christian women sometimes put off visiting the doctors when they notice breast cancer symptoms, because they believe that the symptoms can be prayed away.

"In my experience, however, I know that medical treatment, combined with prayer and spiritual support from your particular faith community can play a major role in helping to overcome any disease, including breast cancer.

"Churches can play a major role in reminding people that their bodies are the temple of God, which must be cared for, and tended to if anything goes wrong. I hope that this campaign encourages women with breast cancer symptoms to visit their doctor, and undergo the recommended treatment and in so doing prolong their lives.

The Be Clear on Cancer campaign is a great health initiative to which I am glad to give my support. One in three women over 70 are diagnosed with cancer – this includes women in the Christian community – so I encourage women who notice any changes to their breasts to visit their doctor straight away as this cancer can be effectively treated if caught early."   
 
Pastor Celia Apeagyei-Collins (right), Founder of Rehoboth Foundation says: "It's important that the African and African Caribbean Christian community dispel the belief amongst some that they should be ashamed that they are sick and the belief that they can pray away symptoms. Doctors are professionally trained to treat disease, and their medical treatment, coupled with prayers, can work together in helping restore a person to full health. A woman's Christian beliefs should not be a barrier for her to seek treatment, if she has symptoms.
 
"It's encouraging to know that if breast cancer is caught early, it can be successfully treated, that's why I encourage women aged over 70 to go to their doctor if they experience any of the symptoms highlighted in this campaign. Too many women are dying from this disease.

"It is an initiative which I hope our churches will give their support so more lives can be saved."

Read more on the campaign at http://www.nhs.uk/be-clear-on-cancer/breast-cancer/home

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