SUR­VIVORS

Wav­ing the pink flag has saved thou­sands of women’s lives in the UAE– in­clud­ing th­ese breast can­cer am­bas­sadors. Read how it could save yours inside

Friday - - Front Page -

It’s 11am and an army of hair stylists, make-up artists and pho­tog­ra­phy team buzz around eight women who are hap­pily laugh­ing and chat­ting as they are get­ting ready for their close up. Swathes of pink – from soft blush through to fuschia and ma­genta – fill the room over­look­ing Dubai’s Me­dia City land­scape. It’s the only clue that th­ese lively, glam­orous women aren’t all friends or col­leagues wait­ing to pose for a company or group por­trait.

They are, in fact, all breast can­cer sur­vivors and have been through the worst fear, pain and stom­ach-churn­ing worry any­one can imag­ine, but are now thrilled to be part of one of the largest, most com­pre­hen­sive breast can­cer aware­ness cam­paigns in the Mid­dle East – the BurJu­man’s Safe and Sound Am­bas­sadors.

They are also bea­cons of hope for women in the UAE to prove the dis­ease isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a death sen­tence.

“I’ve been through so much and now want to help other women with breast can­cer,” smiles Chris­tiane Kam­par. “It’s im­por­tant women know that even the small­est thing – a lump or change in their breast – can need at­ten­tion. I want to help save lives.”

While a few of the women have met be­fore at support groups, oth­ers were meet­ing for the first time. Their pic­tures are be­ing taken for posters and cam­paign ma­te­rial that will be seen in BurJu­man and se­lected out­door venues.

Each woman’s smile tells a story – they are the lucky ones who have re­fused to be beaten by the sec­ond big­gest health-re­lated killer in the UAE (be­hind car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases) and the most common form of can­cer among women. Ac­cord­ing to lat­est avail­able fig­ures, in 2012, 41 per cent of can­cer cases among women in the cap­i­tal, Abu Dhabi, were breast can­cer.

Re­cent statis­tics show that women’s lives are be­ing saved in the UAE thanks largely to more pub­lic aware­ness about the dis­ease, which cham­pi­ons the im­por­tance of reg­u­lar check-ups. Early de­tec­tion is paramount in the fight against breast can­cer and cam­paigns such as BurJu­man’s Safe and Sound have been rais­ing the pink flag since 1997. The fo­cus re­mains on spread­ing the mes­sage and since they were formed they have reached more than 20 mil­lion peo­ple in the Emi­rates.

“The am­bas­sadors of BurJu­man Safe and Sound 2014 came for­ward to vol­un­teer for this year’s cam­paign,” says Ge­nan Al Sayed, mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager at BurJu­man.

“It is through their sto­ries of strength and sur­vival that they will help to en­cour­age more women to take con­trol of their own health. All of th­ese women have recog­nised the im­por­tance of fol­low­ing the three steps that the cam­paign has been pro­mot­ing over the years: monthly self-ex­am­i­na­tion, clin­i­cal breast checks from age 20 on­wards and an an­nual mam­mo­gram from age 40 on­wards. Through their ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in the pro­gramme this month, right up to our Walkathon on Oc­to­ber 31, they hope to reach out to a greater seg­ment of the com­mu­nity and help them to take the nec­es­sary steps in lead­ing health­ier life­styles.”

Fri­day meets some of the cam­paign am­bas­sadors to find out what it means to be a breast can­cer sur­vivor...

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