Breast cancer survivors share their stories

Survivors and their supporters push for early detection through regular screening

Staff Report
15:53 March 16, 2017
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Dubai: Breast cancer survivors and supporters of family members who had breast cancer shared their personal battle with cancer as part of the 7th Pink Caravan Ride on Wednesday to push the message that early detection through regular screenings and check-ups can save lives.

Jennifer Wright, a five-year breast cancer survivor who was on horseback campaigning for Pink Caravan Ride’s pan-UAE breast cancer awareness campaign in Dubai on Tuesday, said: “I did not have the slightest clue when I went in for a mammogram as I was observing the Pink October month campaign in the US that I will be detected with breast cancer.

“Riding today with all these advocates of breast cancer awareness has been an emotional journey. The message here is simple, but really important. Go and get checked — if you get checked early, everything will be fine,” she added.

Breast cancer, if detected early, gives the patient 98 per cent chance of survival.

It was an emotionally charged day as the survivors shared their first-hand accounts of their journey with various people.

The caravan began its second day at City Walk Dubai, and travelled the Jumeirah Road, passing various landmarks like Dubai Canal and BOXPARK. The ride was joined on foot and on horses by Reem BinKaram, Chairperson of the Pink Caravan’s Higher Organising Committee; Saeed Hareb; Secretary-General of Dubai Sports Council, with his daughter Aisha Saeed Hareb, who owns and runs Social Bandage (a social non-profit business in the UAE); and Pink Caravan ambassadors Olympia Tabsh and Mohannad Al Hasouni.

“I am the daughter of a breast cancer survivor. She survived and she is perfectly fine today because it was on one of her regular screenings that her cancer was detected,” Tabsh said.

“That is the main reason why I have been supporting the Pink Caravan’s cause for the past three years, and I am here today. Also, I love riding and have a horse, and there is no better reason to ride,” she added with a big smile on her face.

The day’s ride ended at Kite Beach, and was followed up with one of the seven awareness events of the campaign — Pink Regatta. Several pink boats took to Dubai waters and campaigned on sea, circling the route along the Marina Canal and Jumeirah Beach Hotel, finally ending the boat parade on the shores of The Palm.

On one of the boats, about 20 breast cancer survivors who belong to an informal support group ‘Pink Ladies’ joined in to show their support.

“I was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, when I went in for a mammogram. I have been cancer-free for three years, and have been going for screenings and mammograms at the Pink Caravan Ride clinics since. Regular check-ups and screenings must be part of every woman’s life. Those are the key to safeguarding one’s health and mental peace,” said Nafisa Mohammad Hussain, a Pink Ladies member.

BOX: Wednesday

Screenings: 959, including 172 citizens and 787 expats
Women: 752

Men: 207

Mammograms: 254

Regular screenings: 629

Ultrasound scans: 76

Of the total number of visits, 648 walked into the daily clinics, and 311 were at permanent clinics operating in the seven emirates.