Sunday,22 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1268, (29 October - 4 November 2015)
Sunday,22 July, 2018
Issue 1268, (29 October - 4 November 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Think pink

Mai Samih joined volunteers covering the Abbas Bridge in pink and a rally to raise awareness about breast cancer

Al-Ahram Weekly

To mark International Girls Day and International Breast Cancer Day, the Misr Foundation for Health and Sustainable Development (MFHSD) and the Global Youth Ambassadors Team (GYAT), an NGO, covered the Abbas Bridge in Cairo with pink balloons and paper wrapping.

The event, held on 11 October, marked the start of a campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer. It was attended by Amr Hassan, professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Cairo University. He is a founding member of MFHSD and initiator of the Anti Al-Aham “You are More Important” campaign to raise women’s awareness about health issues.

Also present was Naglaa Fathi, a professor at Qasr Al-Aini University Hospital and director of the National Women’s Health Programme. They were accompanied by a group of medical students and other students and volunteers.

 The “You are More Important” campaign is concerned with women’s issues and raising their awareness of health issues. From this came the campaign about breast cancer called Lissa Gameela, or Still Beautiful.

October is the international month to raise awareness about the disease. October 11 is International Girls’ Day. “I wanted to wish every girl a ‘happy Girls’ Day’,” said Hassan.

The idea was to attract the attention of women by using more unconventional ways than the lectures they usually organise at El-Sawy Culture Wheel in Cairo. Hassan explained, “We are trying to attract women’s attention by decorating the Abbas Bridge with balloons and pink wrapping.”

“We hope to raise their awareness of breast cancer by distributing booklets to women in passing cars or women walking on the bridge in order to reach the most women from different backgrounds. Our seminars only reach a limited number of people.” he adds.

 “The GYAT is concerned with women’s issues in general, including health, so we co-operated with the ‘You are More Important’ campaign to raise women’s awareness during October, which is breast cancer month. This is why we are distributing pink balloons to girls and colouring the Abbas Bridge. The idea is to stress the importance of the early diagnosis of this disease,” said Fathi.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, cancer is a leading cause of death around the world, and in 2012 caused the deaths of 8.2 million people. Breast cancer caused 521,000 deaths among women, and it is a particular problem in developing countries where women may not have awareness about the disease.

Hassan explained that the booklets distributed give information about self-examination methods that can help women diagnose the disease. Every woman over the age of 20 should examine her breasts regularly, Hassan said, in order to discover any unexplained changes.

“Women over the age of 40 must be examined through a mammogram every year, as this looks for tumours that are not large enough to be felt by hand. If the tumour is already large enough to be felt, that can mean that it has already reached an advanced stage,” Hassan said.

“The monthly examination is very important as it raises the chances of cure and decreases the death rate from the disease,” Fathi said.

Hassan lists the dangerous habits that could lead to breast cancer. “There is obesity, especially when a woman eats fatty foods, smokes, has not breastfed and has a particular medical history. Having one or more relatives who have suffered from the disease increases the probability of her suffering from the disease too,” he said, adding that breast cancer is the second cause of death among women worldwide.

He gave an account of the methods used to raise women’s awareness at the foundation: “Every month we choose a topic to talk about and raise people’s awareness of it. Last month we talked about female genital mutilation (FGM), for example. Such campaigns can also be on Facebook or television or even in the form of colouring books distributed to children, all unconventional methods of raising awareness.”

The UN has set targets for the prevention of many common cancers in 2015, including improving living conditions, providing treatment for all, giving everyone the opportunity of early diagnosis and choosing healthy lifestyles.

 Fathi says that her foundation is also working to raise awareness of the disease among Egyptian women. “At GYAT, we work on three levels, among youth, children, and women. We teach children and women in villages and poorer areas through educational campaigns.”

“We organise camps for young people that last for five days and prepare them for work and volunteering. We also organise events relating to health, such as celebrating the international days.”

Shaimaa Said, a member of GYAT and a fifth-year medical student, said that she decided to get involved in the event to help raise women’s awareness about breast cancer and draw wider attention to the disease. Part of the aim is to help restore the self-confidence of women diagnosed with the disease, she said, adding that a cycling marathon was organised in Mansoura to raise women’s awareness about the disease in general and to teach them methods of prevention.

Soad Ahmed, 20, a fourth-year student at the Faculty of Science at Ain Shams University in Cairo, learned of the event through the Internet. “I decided to participate with my friends to help people here. I wanted to support women with breast cancer and to tell them that this is not something that would make their lives stop,” she said. “I feel very happy and feel I am doing something good. I like the spirit of collaboration between the participants here,”

“An invitation was sent to me via the Internet. I feel it is good that we are helping people discover this disease at an early stage,” said 21-year-old Asmaa Ragab, a student at the Faculty of Science at Ain Shams University.

“I attended a GYAT camp in Sharm El-Sheikh beforehand, where I was introduced to professor Fathi. I knew of this event via an Internet application. Some people lack awareness of breast cancer, so we are trying to tell them how to avoid it and how to deal with it if they are diagnosed with it. I am very happy to be part of this event as any positive outcomes from it would make me very happy,” said Mustafa Sedddiq, a 21-year-old medical student.

The campaign also featured a bike rally and a marathon in Zamalek on 23 October. Participants aiming to raise the spirits of breast cancer survivors wore the colour pink.

Participating groups included Go Bike, Giza Runners, International Federal Medical Students Association (IFMSA), British Council, Cairo Scooters Club, National Project for the Health of Women, “You are More Important” campaign and the GYAT.

“Early diagnosis is the most important thing. This is only possible when a woman examines herself on a monthly basis. If she finds an unusual lump or inflammation she should consult a doctor to find out if she is at risk,” Said said.

“If you want to avoid breast cancer, you should practise sport, eat healthy foods, make sure you are not overweight, avoid smoking and check yourself regularly via a mammogram and regular self-examination,” Hassan added.

“We need to get the most women possible more aware about breast cancer. We need to reach people in the villages and in distant governorates. The poorest and neediest communities need more support, and we need to find more partners to help us to give it to them,” comments Hassan.

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