Sharjah: The Pink Caravan was accompanied by 150 horse-riders as it began a 10-day journey covering 320km across the seven emirates on Saturday.
The Pink Caravan raises awareness about breast cancer and stresses the importance of early detection.
The third edition of the annual event, launched under the patronage of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and the directives of his wife Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, started from Sharjah. It will end in Abu Dhabi on February 12.
The Pink Caravan is a pan-UAE Breast Cancer Awareness and Screening Campaign and an initiative of the Friends of Cancer Patients Charity organisation (FoCP). Initiated in 2011, it aims to raise awareness about breast cancer, stress early detection and screening methods, lobby for the creation of the first UAE National Cancer Registry and raise sufficient funds to purchase and operate a state of the art mobile mammography unit.
Pink Caravan ride 2013 will coincide with World Cancer Day on Monday and will support its message for 2013 which is spreading awareness and dispelling myths about breast cancer.
“One out of 99 people who are diagnosed with breast cancer are men but because men don’t know that they can get breast cancer by the time they detect it, it is often very late to treat,” said Lize de Jonge Project manager of the Pink Caravan about some of the misconceptions that people have about breast cancer.
“Some of the misconceptions also include people thinking that mammograms are painful, breast cancer can affect only older woman, breast cancer is contagious and that family history can be used as a breast cancer indicator. All of these beliefs are false, we want people to know that so that we can remove the fear factor and so encourage people to get tested,” she added.
During the campaign, the caravan’s medical professionals will demonstrate how to perform monthly self-examinations and will perform ‘clinical examinations’ for both UAE nationals and non-nationals (given that they have a valid residency visa) who are 20 years old and above.
Medical professions will also provide free consultations and free mammograms where possible and activists will distribute educational brochures. The mobile mammogram unit is equipped with a 3Dimensional mammogram which is considered to be one of the latest technology used for breast cancer detection.
The campaign will target 5,000 screenings and also aims to raise Dh15 million to purchase and operate a state-of-the-art mobile mammography unit and establish a centralised cancer registry in the UAE as currently there is no unified cancer registry in the UAE.
Noor Nazzal is a trainee at Gulf News