Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in women worldwide, with nearly 1.1 million new cases diagnosed each year - and the UAE is no different.
Since 2011, Pink Caravan, PC, an initiative by Friends of Cancer patients, FoCP, has been concentrating its efforts to raise awareness about breast cancer and the importance of early detection through regular self-checks and medical screenings.
61-year-old Madiha, a physician-pharmacist by profession and a mother of two young university graduates, is one of PC’s recent success stories. She came forward to share her journey in successfully fighting breast cancer, which was diagnosed by accident in March 2018 when she suffered from a minor injury in the under-breast area in a road accident.
Like several women, Madiha’s cancer diagnosis was by accident. "Being a pharmacist, and knowing the importance of self-examinations, I used to do them regularly. Discovering I had cancer, however, was a complete coincidence. After a car accident, I had a bandage on my breast for three days. I felt something lumpy in my breast - a tumour-like mass - when it was being taken off. I discovered this in March 2018, when the eighth edition of the Pink Caravan Ride, PCR, was doing the rounds across the country. I immediately went to one of PC’s clinics and was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer," Madiha said.
"PC immediately referred me to the University Hospital Sharjah (UHS), where I had surgery in April. Two months later, they also put me on needed therapy sessions. I am indebted to Pink Caravan for not only covering my treatment costs but they gave me unlimited emotional support, which strengthened my response to treatment," she stated.
"The first thing that came to my mind when I was told I had cancer was my children. My dream is to be by their side for as long as possible, especially since their father passed away in 2009. I thought about them and I burst into tears," the brave cancer survivor said.
In its eight-year journey, PC has turned the breast cancer challenge into a message of hope for the UAE’s and Sharjah’s people, in line with the nation’s strong commitment to safeguarding people’s health and offering quality healthcare services to all regardless of their nationality, or age.
Each year, the annual breast cancer awareness campaign - the Pink Caravan Ride (PCR) - travels to all seven emirates of the UAE to dispel misconceptions and taboos that surround breast cancer by showing community members ways to avert the risks of developing it as well as undergo regular screening, which is the key to early detection and successful treatment. It is medically proven that breast cancers that are detected early have a 98 percent chance of full recovery through right treatment and care.
The ninth edition of PCR will take place from 23rd February to 1st March, and aims to offer free screenings to 9,000 citizens and residents of the UAE.
Under the patronage and support of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, PC detected and provided breast cancer treatment to 61 patients, successfully restoring a majority of them back to health. This is a huge contribution, especially to those who face difficulties bearing the high costs of cancer treatment.
Madiha has called on all community members to support cancer patients. She says the Pink Caravan and FOCP are true inspirations in the way they provide financial, emotional and medical support that to hundreds of cancer patients and their families.
The Pink Caravan Ride provides free examinations for men and women, citizens and residents of all categories in the UAE society, through more than 30 mobile and fixed medical clinics operated by 200 medical personnel. The clinics have so far screened more than 56,000 individuals, which has led to the diagnosis of 61 breast cancer cases.