Pink ties that bind can­cer sur­vivors

Khaleej Times - - NATION - Asma Ali Zain as­maal­izain@khalee­j­times.com

dubai — The thread of strength and re­silience binds breast can­cer sur­vivors to­gether in the nar­ra­tive of their jour­ney from di­ag­no­sis to com­plete re­cov­ery.

At the launch of the fifth edi­tion of the ‘Pink It Now’ cam­paign or­gan­ised by Zulekha Hospi­tal on Mon­day to mark the In­ter­na­tional Breast Can­cer Aware­ness month, three women spoke about their ex­pe­ri­ences beat­ing the dreaded af­flic­tion.

Shaikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sul­tan Al Qasimi, Found­ing Board Mem­ber of Friends for Can­cer Pa­tients (FoCP), who has been at the fore­front in pro­mot­ing breast can­cer aware­ness, launched the cam­paign that ad­vo­cates early de­tec­tion and re­duc­ing can­cer deaths across the UAE.

Dikr­rayat Hayat, a sur­vivor, said her di­ag­no­sis had come as a big shock. “I’d as­sumed I would never get breast can­cer since I have al­ways led an ac­tive life­style and eaten healthy.”

She dis­cov­ered two lumps in her breast and un­der­went chemo­ther­apy last year. “No one is im­mune to the dis­ease… lis­ten to your body,” she ad­vised.

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with The Pink Car­a­van — an FoCP ini­tia­tive that has been func­tion­ing in the UAE since 2011 to raise aware­ness about breast can­cer — the aim is to high­light the im­por­tance of early de­tec­tion, reg­u­lar check-ups, and dis­pel in­nu­mer­able myths that-sur­round this dis­ease. “The Pink It Now cam­paign high­lights the need for con­tin­ued ed­u­ca­tion and ac­cess to spe­cial­ist screen­ing op­tions,” said Shaikha Lubna.

Ameera BinKaram, Found­ing Mem­ber and Pres­i­dent of the Board of Di­rec­tors of FoCP and Head of Pink Car­a­van Ride Higher Steer­ing Com­mit­tee said: “Many women in the UAE still hes­i­tate to at­tend get can­cer check-ups and make med­i­cal ap­point­ments only when they are un­well. This puts their health at risk, par­tic­u­larly in view of the fact that breast can­cer is the most com­mon form can­cer in women world­wide.

“Women in the UAE should un­dergo reg­u­lar check-ups, as 98 per cent of breast can­cer cases de­tected dur­ing the early stages can be fully cured. They should also per­form fre­quent self-ex­am­i­na­tions.”

Dr Pamela Mun­ster, can­cer ex­pert from the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia in San Fran­cisco, US and the cam­paign’s chief am­bas­sador since its in­cep­tion, said: “Nearly 1.7 mil­lion new cases of breast can­cer were di­ag­nosed in 2012 and in the Mid­dle East and North Africa alone, breast can­cer amounts to 30 per cent of all can­cer cases.

“Last year, we dou­bled the num­ber of women reg­is­ter­ing for free screen­ings over 2014 and we hope to have the same con­tin­ued suc­cess this year,” said Zanu­bia Shams, cochair­per­son of Zulekha Hos­pi­tals. The 2015 edi­tion of ‘Pink It Now’ saw 1,826 women tak­ing ad­van­tage of free spe­cial­ist on­col­o­gist and gy­nae­col­o­gist con­sul­ta­tions.

Many women in the uae still hes­i­tate to at­tend get can­cer check­ups and make med­i­cal ap­point­ments only when they are un­well. This puts their health at risk, par­tic­u­larly in view of the fact that breast can­cer is the most com­mon form of can­cer in women world­wide.” Ameera BinKaram, Found­ing Mem­ber & Pres­i­dent of the Board of Di­rec­tors of FoCP

I’d as­sumed I would never get breast can­cer since I have al­ways led an ac­tive life­style and eaten healthy. No one is im­mune to the dis­ease… lis­ten to your body” Dikr­rayat Hayat, a sur­vivor

Nearly 1.7 mil­lion new cases of breast can­cer were di­ag­nosed in 2012; in the Mid­dle east and North africa alone, breast can­cer amounts to 30 per cent of all can­cer cases.” Dr Pamela Mun­ster, can­cer ex­pert, Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia in San Fran­cisco

—Pho­tos by Les­lie Pableo

Shaikha Lubna with Dr Zulekha Daud and Dr Pamela Mun­ster as they in­au­gu­rate Zulekha Hospi­tal’s 5th year of Breast Can­cer Aware­ness Cam­paign, Pink it Now, at Conrad Ho­tel, Dubai, on Mon­day.

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