Dubai: People never think it’s going to happen to them, until it does.
But breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. It affects women and men, young and old, healthy and unhealthy individuals and without screening, there’s no way to know that the disease has struck until it’s too late.
“Without screening, people just don’t know whether everything is fine or not. You never think it is going to happen to you. You may have the early stages of breast cancer and not know it — it’s like chipping a nail, it doesn’t hurt,” Jennifer Wright, 51, a breast cancer survivor said. “The treatment makes you sick, not the initial cancer.”
Wright is among the scores of breast cancer survivors who will again be on horseback beginning March 7 to champion the message of early breast cancer detection based on their first-hand experience for the 7th pan-UAE Pink Caravan Ride.
The 10-day horseback expedition includes the equine route, the medical route that gives free screenings to everyone, fund-raising initiatives, and awareness events.
Now living in Dubai, Wright said awareness is crucial.
“I was a fit and healthy person and when I reached 40, I went for a mammogram and everything was fine, but then we had an extremely busy time in our lives including moving home and I skipped a few years.”
Four years later, Wright’s mammogram results revealed three tumours — they were all cancerous.
Wright went into depression after the initial treatment. She was advised to take up something she really loved to overcome her depression — horse riding.
“I got back into the saddle after 20 years and it has been fantastic in terms of both therapy and sheer enjoyment. I even ride competitively against younger riders.”
Since the Pink Caravan involves volunteers on horseback, Wright made wise use of her passion for riding to teach people that early detection is paramount to survival.
Also saddling up for the ride is Charlotte Robineau, 43, from Yorkshire in the UK. She’s joining the ambassadors in pink on Day 5 on the Pink Caravan Ride — Regatta Day in Dubai. Charlotte, who describes herself as “confident but not competitive” on a horse, was diagnosed with rapidly developing Stage 3, grade 3 cancer just 18 months ago.
“My body felt as though there was something wrong. I had an itch on my nipple and I went to seek some advice, but nothing was found. Something still seemed wrong to me. I went for another test and then finally took myself to hospital where I was immediately treated as an emergency case and had an oncologist, a breast surgeon, everybody — it was two weeks of hell to be honest,” she said.
Surgeons removed Robineau’s breast because the chemotherapy wouldn’t work in the stage where Robineau was in.
“I thought it was either going to destroy me or I could simply get positive; I could either give in or kill this beast. It is incredible how your attitude can actually have a tangible effect on your recovery,” she said.
“I didn’t know much about breast cancer before I was diagnosed, but I would urge anybody to listen to their own bodies, their own inner voice and if they feel there is something wrong — get checked out straight away.”
For more information on the Pink Caravan Ride route map, visit www.pinkcaravan.ae.