Around 150 equine riders will travel the seven emirates to screen for breast cancer. Image Credit: Supplied

ABU DHABI: The UAE’s annual breast cancer initiative, Pink Caravan Ride (PCR), is set to kick off on February 28 from Sharjah.

Conducted under the umbrella of Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), a non-profit organisation in Sharjah, the ride aims to highlight the importance of regular screening and early detection of breast cancer. Every year, around 150 equine riders along with schools, universities and corporations, travel the seven emirates to screen for breast cancer. The ride will conclude on March 6 in Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Sawsan Al Madhi, director general of FoCP and head of the PCR Medical and Awareness Committee said treatment of cancer has a high rate of success if the disease is detected in its early stages. “With our nationwide run, we are providing the best platform for free breast assessments and mammograms to men and women,” she said.

Nadia Metwaly, a 63-year-old Egyptian expat, is one of the many residents who have benefitted from the awareness drive. She was found to have a large lump in her breast during a screening at a PCR clinic back in 2011 – the inaugural year of the ride. Later she underwent lumpectomy and had a swift recovery.

Syrian Aicha Abdul Wahab Khatib, 72, was diagnosed in 2016. She has completely recovered, physically and emotionally.

Another Egyptian, Hanan Al Syed, 57, is undergoing treatment after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. The former physical education teacher plans to get involved in the FoCP programmes in future.

Pink figures

“When the campaign first started in 2011, eyebrows were raised at the mention of the word ‘breast’, and we referred to the condition as ‘chest cancer’. We knew what we were up against when we began the journey,” said Reem Bin Karam, chairperson of PCR Higher Steering Committee.

Since then, PCR has succeeded in dispelling myths surrounding breast cancer and encouraged thousands of women and men to undergo early screening. Till date, PCR has examined 48,874, people. This includes 32,093 expats and 16,781 Emiratis; 9,643 of them being men. Last year, 7,483 clinical examinations were done – (6,366 women and 1,117 men) – where 12 cases of breast cancer were detected.

“Our survivors will be part of this year’s PCR team to inspire, motivate, spread hope and highlight the importance of regular medical examinations,” said Dr. Sawsan.

For more information, visit www.pinkcaravan.ae