Ms. Zanubia Shams and the Panel members at Pink it Now.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
The well-being and plight of their families and loved ones remain to be on top of the list of suspected/confirmed breast cancer patients and survivors, despite their condition.
This is from the files of the Zulekha Healthcare Group which, its clinical psychologist Arathi Vijayan, revealed on Monday, being among the panel of specialists that launched on Monday morning the 10th annual month-long “Pink It Now” in The Oberoi (Dubai).
Began in 2012, “Pink It Now” is the “flagship campaign” of the healthcare institution established in Sharjah by Dr Zulekha Daud over 50 years ago. Its campaign ambassador is breast cancer survivor and University of California (San Francisco, USA)-Department of Medicine (Haematology and Oncology) professor/Early Phase Clinical Trials Unit director Dr Pamela Munster.
In the past decade, more than 13,000 women and men have partaken of the breast cancer awareness initiatives including free mamogramme and oncology consultations at the Zulekha Hospitals in Sharjah and Dubai. This led to the capture of more breast cancer cases in their initial stages, the patients of whom belong to the 20s age group.
“In the past 10 years, the people seeking free consultations and mamogrammes are increasing each year which is a positive change. The number of advanced breast cancer cases are becoming less as more early stages are diagnosed which means the treatment is less aggressive,” said Surgical Oncology specialist Dr Fadi Alnehlaoui, before moderating the panel discussion with his colleagues Medical Oncology consultant Dr Soha Abdelbaky, Medical Oncology specialists Dr Nidha Iqbal and Dr Mohamed Elbassyouny Alawy, Radiology specialist Dr Swati Chandrashekher Pacharne, Paediatric Oncology specialist Dr Nancy Israel, and Clinical psychologist Vijayan.
Vijayan disclosed the findings of the campaign in the last 10 years from the topic “Emotional Readiness During Diagnosis and Treatments, Family Support and Support Group Meetings.” She also said that families must be provided with all the support they need.
The necessary support was also stressed by guest-of-honour Ministry of Health and Prevention-Public Health Policy & Licensing Sector assistant undersecretary Dr. Amin Hussain Al Amiri in his speech. He quoted World Health Organisation (WHO) 2020 global data about 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and 685,000 dying from it. He said public awareness campaigns on health concerns which are aligned with the thrust of the UAE government trigger early detection and screenings, the logistics and equipment of which are accessible: “Ninety-nine per cent of cases (are resolved) because of early detection.”
Al Amiri encouraged all sectors to join hands towards a much healthier UAE community as the UAE leadership sees to it that laws and regulations in connection with the provision and more importantly. the availability as well as the accessibility of up-to-date healthcare essentials are acted upon. He expressed gratefulness for the unwavering support from the Zulekha Healthcare Group.
From the campaign video, it was learnt that breast cancer cases accounted for 21.4 per cent of all diagnosed cases in the UAE or 1,030 breast cancer cases as per the WHO 2020 UAE records. It was also learnt that women are the severely affected as more than ever, they are concerned about their families.
For her part, Vijayan said: “Breast cancer patients are concerned more about (what would happen to their families with) the switch of roles. That of them being the caregiver to being cared for. How to deal with this, we must (highly consider even in the case of) suspected breast cancer patients and the survivors.”
Vijayan pointed out the importance as well as the significance of support to the families and loved ones, claiming that most likely they are treading on unfamiliar situations and are oftentimes “grieving.”
“Families play an important role (in order that suspected/confirmed breast cancer patients and survivors are able to get out of the woods). Support groups will make a difference,” she said, adding that keeping a positive attitude though how difficult it may be and surrounding oneself with positive people and energy will help everyone out of the crisis.
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Nawal, who is 45 years old, said: “My experience with breast cancer was very difficult, as it was discovered by chance. I did not do any examination.”
Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer among women, impacting 2.1 million women each year, and also causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
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