By Bunmi Sofola
FINDINGS have shown that becoming a father is a major life event which changes family relationships, brings new responsibilities and has a major economic impact on the new parents.
Men have their own needs as new fathers, yet can also lack information about how they can support their partners. Michael 26, was totally unprepared for fatherhood when Sammy, his 23- year-old undergraduate wife suddenly discovered she was pregnant.
“Sammy and I had been together for two years when she got pregnant. She was studying to become a teacher and I’d just got a fairly good job after my youth service,” explained Michael.
“Sammy told her parents and they informed mine. All of a sudden, wedding plans were being made – and it had to happen before the baby arrived. It didn’t seem real. Marriage was the furtherest thought on my mind. I would have preferred we were both working but here was Sammy starting to look pregnant. Would our lives change much? Even though we both have caring families, my main worry was supporting the three of us on my new salary that was scarcely enough for my needs. Once in a while, I asked myself: ‘What have I done?’
“The wedding was a blur – it was something I had to get over with. My worry now was the baby and how I’d cope with the birth. Would I let my new wife down by being too squeamish? In the end, our son’s birth was the most powerful, moving event of my entire life. Like most new fathers, I was present at the birth and I’m not ashamed to admit I cried.
“When we brought the baby to our new flat, I felt a bit sidelined. The whole focus of both families was on the baby – and then my wife. No one seemed interested in me.
“It may sound selfish but my life had changed over-night too, and I had no idea what my new role was. I was a bit lost. Since then however, I’ve realised being a dad means getting on with it. And it’s hard work, believe me. I had to learn to change nappies, prepare his food when he was weaned off breast milk and give him his bath when I could. We are lucky that our son is not one of the screamy type, still both of us are exhausted – no thanks to househelps who seem to up and go whenever they feel like it.
“But my wife and I are finding our feet, but I feel the pressure being the only wage earner. My mum and my wife’s mum take turns looking after the baby when Sammy returned to schooL Her main worry is her post-baby stomach but I assure her always she looks good to me. Her body makes me love her even more – a proof she brought our child into the word. To be honest, I found the news I was going to be a dad scary and bewildering – but it is a wonderful experience. When my son, who now crawls all over the place, gives me his toothy smile, everything suddenly seems worth it. I know I have to do my best for him for the rst of my life. And that’s something that comes naturally – eventually”!
Breast Cancer Can Return 15 Years After The All-Clear
BREAST cancer can return 15 years after a woman is given the all-clear, a study reveals. The disease can ‘lie dormant’, Oxford University researchers found. It means women might be told to continue taking hormonal drugs for longer than the current five years, in a bid to stop tumours returning. Scientists analysed data from 88 clinical trials involving 62,923 women, all of whom had the most common form of breast cancer fuelled by the hormone oestrogen.
Every patient received pill treatments such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors which block the effects of oestrogen or shut off the hormone’s supply. After five years of therapy, their cancers had gone and they stopped taking the drugs. But monitoring the women’s progress revealed recurrences of the disease up to 15 years later, 20 years after initial diagnoses. Survival rate have significantly improved in recent years. In the past, most people with cancer were likely to die within a few years, but medical advances mean patients are more likely to survive for many years – which is why scientists are learning for the first time that tumours can come back so long afterwards.
Lead researcher, Dr. Hongchao Pan, an epidemiologist at the university, said: ‘It is remarkable that breast cancer can remain dormant for so long and then spread many years later, with this risk remaining the same year after year and still strongly related to the size of the original cancer and whether it had spread to the lymph nodes.’ Women who started off with large tumours and cancer that had spread to four or more lymph nodes faced the highest risk of recurrence, the study showed. They had a 40 per cent risk of cancer returning in a different part of the body over a period of 15 years after stopping treatment.
For patients diagnosed with small, low-grade cancers that had not spread the risk was 10 per cent. Doctors have long known that five years of tamoxifen reduces the risk of recurrence by about a third in the five years after stopping treatment. Aromatase inhibitors, which only work for post-menopausal women, are believed to be even more effective. But Sally Greenbrook, policy manager at Breast Cancer Now, hailed the ‘important development’.
She said: ‘We’ve always known that breast cancer can return years later, but this major study identifies that women may remain at risk of recurrence for at least 15 years, suggesting that they may benefit from extending their hormone therapy. `As women taking hormone therapies can experience difficult side effects, it’s essential they discuss any changes in treatment with their doctor to make a decision that’s right for them.’