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
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...