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On 15 horses to spread
 awareness on cancer

Asma Ali Zain / 27 March 2012

Over 15 horse riders from the Pink Caravan will travel 266km across the UAE to screen for breast cancer, a disease that afflicts hundreds of women annually in the country.

SHARJAH - Over 15 horse riders from the Pink Caravan will travel 266km across the UAE to screen for breast cancer, a disease that afflicts hundreds of women annually in the country.

The target is to carry out 5,000 tests using a mobile mammogram clinic. The Pink Caravan campaign was started last year to raise awareness on the importance of early detection of breast cancer. It will start its journey from Sharjah on April 5 and end on April 14 in Abu Dhabi. This year, however, the campaign will also raise awareness about cervical cancer.

Launched by the Friends Of Cancer Patients (FOCP), the campaign will include 10 volunteer riders and five riders from Pink Caravan’s ambassadors and UAE’s prominent figures on daily basis.

“The primary goal of the Pink Caravan is to reach every woman and man in the UAE to spread awareness on breast cancer, conduct clinical tests and encourage the culture of regular test,” said Ameera bin Karam, FOCP’s Founding Member and President of the Board of Trustees. A 2D mammogram will be designated for remote areas to conduct ultrasound and mammogram tests on the spot.

The Pink Caravan has also initiated the establishment of a unified cancer register in the UAE. Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, Chairperson of the Pink Caravan’s Medical and Awareness Committee said: “This year we are targeting 5,000 screening tests at the mobile clinic within a period of 17 days, starting from April 1 until 17.” A medical team with over 50 staff will conduct the tests. “The main difficulty faced last year was reaching remote areas and convincing people to conduct medical and clinical examination,” said Dr Madhi. “Traditions and customs as well as lack of awareness were the key reasons why we experienced problems during our journey.”

“The other main challenge was to encourage those who were in the high risk categories for breast cancer to receive mammogram or ultrasound tests in specialised hospitals, which in many cases were far from the patient’s home,” she said.

“We had to keep close contact with them on a regular basis and make sure they were provided with means of transport so they could get the necessary tests and treatment,” she added. This year, some of the Pink Caravan’s ambassadors include Shaikha Madiya bint Hamad Al Sharqi, daughter of His Highness Shaikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Fujairah, among others.

The second time

This is the second year that Sarah Hammoudeh, a Jordanian national is volunteering for Pink Caravan.

Sarah, who has joined the pink campaign with her four siblings, started horse riding eight years ago. “We all live to volunteer and do something for others,” she said when asked as to why she joined the campaign. “We normally ride for two days and then help in taking care of the horses,” she said.

“It was fun last time and we hope to raise a lot of awareness this time, too,” added Sarah.


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