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‘Do not ignore the bloodstain’
BY MARIECAR JARA-PUYOD September 26, 2018
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DUBAI: Two among 100 breast cancer patients are men and while it seems this is negligible, there is still no reason for men to be unmindful of the signs and symptoms of the disease.

UAE resident for 15 years Sarvesh Kamat from Goa, India acted upon the candid observation of his seven-year-old daughter in December 2017.

The engineer spoke about the need to seek immediate assistance on Monday as part of the 2018 edition of the Zulekha Healthcare Group (Zulekha) ‘Pink It Now’ breast cancer awareness campaign at the Palazzo Versace in Dubai.

The seventh year launch of the project, with Dubai Health Authority (DHA) director general Humaid Mohammed Al Qatami as chief guest, coincided with the unveiling of the  ‘Twisting Fate—My Journey with BRCA—From Breast Cancer Doctor to Patient and Back’ by Zulekha’s Campaign ambassador Dr Pamela Munster.

Munster considers the UAE her second home, 30 years after she arrived in 1988.

Al Qatami said, “(DHA) admires the efforts made by private hospitals towards disease prevention and early diagnosis. Such efforts and initiatives come in line with the DHA’s vision: towards a healthier and happier community.”

He emphasised the relevance of public-private partnership and cooperation for the realisation of the ‘DHA vision: towards a healthier and happier community.’

Al Qatami admired the zealousness of Zulekha in continuing ‘Pink It Now’ which began in 2011. It has far encouraged the participation of 7,600 women in the fight against breast cancer.

On a global scale and based on recent 2018 World Health Organisation records, 627,000 women had passed on. 

As for the significance of entities coming together for a cause, the Zulekha co-chairperson Zanubia Shams in a speech acknowledged the contribution of Aysha Taryam, Editor in Chief of The Gulf Today, and Ameera Taryam, Editor in Chief of Kul Ul Isra. The two publications are brought out by Dar Al Khaleej for Press, Printing and Publishing.

About her book, Munster told The Gulf Today the project is ‘personal’.

More importantly, The University of California-San Francisco (US) Medicine professor added she wanted more people to come to know both the medical and patient perspectives of breast cancer and all the other forms of the disease characterised by the rapid abnormal growths of cells that affects other tissues and organs such as the lungs, colon, prostate, skin and the stomach.

The reason for the scientific and helpful guidebook: Munster having been diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years back and thereafter her father had consequently complained of severe stomach pain.

“I had the gene. I had my dad checked. He was found (to be suffering from) pancreatic cancer. It has been five years. He is well.”

On the sidelines and the family’s discovery that he had been diagnosed with breast cancer, Kamat recalled it was his daughter over dinner commenting about ‘ketchup that dropped’ on the left side of his shirt.

It was a bloodstain. Kamat initially ignored it until another another bloodstain was spotted on the left side of his shirt a few days later.

Kamat’s wife Niyatee also expressed gratefulness for their daughter’s sharp observation which led them to seek consultation with Zulekha’s oncologist Dr Pranay.

Kamat underwent several tests that included psychological diagnostics. He is currently under a once-a-day medication and monitored. 

Pranay gave encouraging words for his patient’s tenacity.

Niyatee said, “Do not ignore anything about health.”

Before the event on Tuesday, this reporter had the chance to talk with Zulekha’s oncologist Dr Tarek Al Khouri.

He mentioned about the percentages of women and men found to be suffering from breast cancer in every 100 people.

Al Khouri attributed to the breast cancer awareness drives the mind-blowing number of women and men coming out as victims and survivors. 

“More people are becoming more aware. They take action. They go for consultations and tests.”

Al Khouri also said more women have become braver to pursue hormonal and targeted therapies as well as reconstructive surgery which have made the nerve-wracking chemotherapy almost obsolete.

However, like all the other medical specialists at the panel discussion, Al Khouri stressed breast cancer is a preventable disease and it starts with the person taking action on maintaining sound health and seeking immediate medical advice.

Ongoing at Zulekha are free consultations with specialist, free X-ray mammograms only for women, 40 years and above upon the specialist’s advice and a discounted price for the U/S mammogram.

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