Cancer, a disease which is stretching its hands rapidly worldwide. Many people every year lost their lives due to cancer. We go to the doctors for its treatment but have you heard someone can detect cancer with fingertips? This is true! Yes, in the year 2011 Leidy Garcia awoke one morning she discovered that she could no longer see. By then, Francia Papamija was already blind. Disease swept away one sense but sharpened another, and their heightened sense of touch has become a valuable weapon in Colombia’s fight against breast cancer.
We are talking about Garcia and Papamija. These are two of five women who are blind or visually impaired. They have been specially trained to detect breast cancer with the use of their fingertips. They belong to Colombia. Cancer is responsible for 2,500 deaths annually in Colombia, where 7,000 new cases are detected each year in a country.
It was noted by German doctor Frank Hoffman a decade ago that the blind have an innate facility to detect nodules — groupings of cells — which may be the first signs of the disease. Luis Alberto Olave, a surgeon says,
“People with visual impairment have an increased sensitivity. There is a greater sense of touch and greater discrimination of the elements.”
Five women between the ages of 25 and 35, free of vascular or neurological problems that could impede their sensitivity, were chosen. They got trained and since then, they have evaluated more than 900 patient. 35 years old Papamija who lost her sight at age seven said,
“We are breaking a paradigm where people believe that because we have a disability, we cannot think or do things for ourselves.”
Whereas, 26 years old blind Garcia said,
“People who see well are very visual — that is, they let themselves be guided by what they see. I locate myself a lot by touching and hearing.”
These women palpate patient’s breasts for cysts or lumps, highlighting possible nodules by marking them with yellow and red tape. When a lump is detected, they notify a doctor who then does further treatments.