Linda Berlot training in Dubai before her Zanzibar expedition. Image Credit: Anjana Kumar/Gulf News

DUBAI: A Dubai-based Italian expat is set to embark on a 250km kayaking expedition around Zanzibar Island to show women there is life after breast cancer.

Linda Berlot, 50, began the nine-day challenge on Monday (October 22) with a group of eight other women including her sister who is also a breast cancer survivor.

Berlot underwent radical bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction after being diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago.

“When you come face to face with mortality it makes you want to live. The only way to do that is by challenging yourself mentally and physically so that you feel alive, every day. We cannot always help with what happens to us in life, but we can certainly choose who we are in those moments,” said Berlot, a board member at Brest Friends, a non-for-profit organisation in partnership with Al Jalila Foundation, to help survivors in their journey.

“Kayaking for 250km is no mean feat, more so for someone who’s afraid of open waters. But this is exactly why I am undertaking the challenge. I want to face my fears and will not allow it to determine how I live,” Berlot said.

“Fear is also something that stops women from being proactive about their health. We do not do self-examinations or go for mammograms because we are afraid we might have cancer,” said Berlot who went on an expedition to Antarctica shortly after being diagnosed with early stages of breast cancer in 2011.

“I wanted to reach the southern-most tip of the world and plant a pink ribbon there. It was very challenging, but it gave me immense satisfaction. Training my body after my surgery helped me feel empowered and in control of my life again. Just being in the southern-most tip of the world to plant the pink ribbon to raise awareness on breast cancer was a huge achievement,” she recalled.