As we would know well by now, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is essentially a worldwide annual campaign involving thousands of organisations, to highlight the importance of breast awareness, education and research.
Closing out the eventful month with an important event, the combined forces of the American Women’s Association Qatar, Tuesday Ladies Group, and the International Ladies Pot Luck Group came together at the InterContinental Doha-The City to host a Pink October Awareness Afternoon Tea.
Regina McCorkle, President of American Women’s Association Qatar, told Community, “The purpose of the event was to bring together expatriate ladies living in Qatar, to educate them on cancer awareness, and showcase the remarkable job that the Cancer Society and Hamad Hospital are doing here in Qatar. Approximately 100 ladies and several gentlemen attended the afternoon event.”
Several guest speakers were featured including Dr Hadi Abu Rashed of Qatar Cancer Society (QCS), who informed the audience about cancer and the accomplishments of QCS. Two representatives from Hamad Hospital, Nahrida and Nerima, spoke about the services the hospital offers to the public. They said that cancer patients are seen within 48 hours of diagnosis and a plan is put in place regarding their treatment.
Additionally, some cancer survivors – Sandee of Doha Wireless Warriors, Kirsty of Two Fat Expats blog, and Liz Keaney, life coach and public speaker – spoke about their experience of treatment and life after cancer diagnosis.
“Along with their inspirational messages, we heard of cases where cancer has been cured. Early detection, proper treatment, and healthy lifestyle are key to combating the condition. All these groups came together for this worthy event to educate and communicate the importance of this message throughout the expatriate community,” McCorkle said.
The three main risk factors for breast cancer has been found to be gender – being a woman is the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer; getting older – the older the person the higher the risk, with more than 80 per cent of breast cancers occurring in women over the age of 50; and significant family history – this isn’t common, around 5 per cent of people diagnosed with breast cancer have inherited a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
According to the website breastcancer.org, except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2016, it’s estimated that just under 30 per cent of cancers diagnosed in women will be breast cancers. A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. For women in the United States, breast cancer death rates are higher than death rates for any other type of cancer, besides lung cancer. Whereas in the UK, every year, nearly 60,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer, which is the equivalent of one person every 10 minutes. And nearly 12,000 people die from breast cancer in the UK every year.
McCorkle said, “I feel very strongly about spreading the word as I lost my brother to cancer. His cancer was curable. My dad currently has skin cancer. I want to spread the word far and wide to help stop this disease. By talking about cancer and teaching others what to look out for, we can save lives by early diagnosis.”
The American Cancer Society says, “Breast cancer is typically detected either during a screening examination, before symptoms have developed, or after a woman notices a lump. Most masses seen on a mammogram and most breast lumps turn out to be benign; that is, they are not cancerous, do not grow uncontrollably or spread, and are not life-threatening. When cancer is suspected, microscopic analysis of breast tissue is necessary for a definitive diagnosis and to determine the extent of spread (in situ or invasive) and characterise the type of the disease. The tissue for microscopic analysis can be obtained via a needle or surgical biopsy.”
The event was hosted jointly by American Women’s Association Qatar, Tuesday Ladies Group, and the International Ladies Pot Luck Group.