The 10th annual Pink Caravan Ride concludes its 10-day pan-UAE awareness campaign in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
As a young, 16-year-old Emirati student Malath Al Ameri mounted on horseback on Thursday gearing up for her role as an equestrian volunteer on the last leg of the 10th edition of Pink Caravan Ride (PCR) in Abu Dhabi, one goal remained uppermost in her mind — to take forward the breast cancer awareness and prevention education programme launched by Friends of Cancer Patients, a UAE-based non-profit, and raise awareness amongst the community on the importance of early detection and diagnosis, prevention and risk factors.
On Thursday, the pink brigade headed by Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Pink Caravan Special Envoy, Chairman of the Sharjah’s Department of Government Relations, completed the final leg of the 10th annual awareness campaign in Abu Dhabi, mapping a distance of 14 kms. The equestrians mounted their horses at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and journeyed towards Abu Dhabi Corniche before reaching Marina Mall at noon. The breast cancer advocates continued their march from Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and dismounted their horses at Healthpoint where they concluded their nationwide journey that had commenced in Sharjah on February 26.
“My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that made the treatment journey hard on both her and our family,” said Malath Al Ameri. “If she had been detected earlier, the treatment process would have been easier on her. Getting regular screening tests is the most reliable way to find breast cancer early, and that is why I am here at the Pink Caravan Ride, to take this message far and wide to the community.”
Her mother, Mona Abdulrahman, watched with pride from a distance as her daughter waved at onlookers and distributed PCR flags to pedestrians as the equestrians campaigned on the capital’s streets.
“I call it the ‘Hope Caravan’, it’s a ride that save lives literally,” said the 43-year-old. “People should be aware of breast cancer and the need to be checked regularly, not only for women but for men as well.”
“As a person who has undergone treatment, I know what breast cancer entails and the woes that come with it. I wanted to be part of the Pink Caravan this year but due to my medical condition and the physical toll of the ride, I had to step back. That is why my daughter is on horseback; I want her to raise greater community awareness and share our story with cancer so that people take heed and get their screenings done on time,” said the mother of six children.
Throughout Thursday, residents across the capital flocked to PCR clinics for free breast screenings. Three clinics offered free screenings for women at Dalma Mall, Khalidia Mall and Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi from 2 pm – 10 pm on Friday, while a clinic dedicated to both genders was available at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque from 10 am - 6 pm. A mobile clinic was also stationed at Al Hudayriat Island on Friday between 10 am – 6 pm.
Since the inaugural ride 10 years ago, volunteers have been at the frontlines of the campaign to take forward and spread PCR’s messages to the UAE community. Their tireless efforts and dedication to the cause has been the driving force behind the awareness campaign’s continued success.
Each volunteer at PCR had a strong motive to join the PCR family, including Mira Ahli, a cancer survivor and an equestrian.
“I am here to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer and share my personal story with cancer,” said the 30-year-old. “Every member of society should know how just a short amount of time spent on a checkup can potentially save lives, reduce the treatment burden and the hardships associated with it.”
The Emirati earned her master’s degree in Strategic Management and Leadership, and is still receiving treatment. “You are never too young to be screened. Both men and women should not think twice or delay getting themselves checked because diagnosing a disease earlier improves outcomes greatly. Our goal, through PCR, is to urge people to step forward and take action by visiting the free clinics for screening.”
Reem BinKaram, Head of PCR’s Higher Steering Committee extended her gratitude for the continued support and cooperation of the several official and governmental authorities in the emirate of Abu Dhabi including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Abu Dhabi Police.
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In the UAE, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women constituting 38% of all female cancers which has steadily increased over the last 3 decades.
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