Novartis, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, is sending out a strong message of hope for women across the region that have been diagnosed with breast cancer. As part of its ‘Women in Pink’ initiative, Novartis partnered with the Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) and the Emirates Oncology Society (EOS) to organize an event that celebrated breast cancer survivors and strengthened their support to women that are currently undergoing treatment for the disease.
The event brought together several medical experts and healthcare officials, including Jihen Toumi, Head Medical Affairs, Innovative Medicines, Novartis Gulf; Prof. Humaid Al-Shamsi, President of the Emirates Oncology Society; and Ms. Aisha Abdulla Al Mulla, Director of Friends of Cancer Patients. TV personality Fadia Al-Taweel and Paula Nasrallah, an active volunteer with Friends of Cancer Patients; also took to the stage to recount their experiences with breast cancer and their journey towards healing.
Influencers and media personnel immersed themselves into the event’s theme of spreading awareness and amplifying the message of hope to patients and communities using Women in Pink filters and hashtags across all social channels. As part of the initiative, bamboo plants were also distributed to various women influencers and professionals across the UAE to deliver the message of hope, and honor their resilience and strength, that lies within them.
Novartis’ ‘Women in Pink’ initiative is the latest in a series of its efforts that have been launched by the company to empower women across the region with the knowledge they need in order to seek proper treatment. The initiative is aimed at raising awareness about the importance of regular screenings in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer. It is also focused on assuring women that a breast cancer diagnosis is not the end of the road for them. The initiative has brought together a series of breast cancer survivors to share messages of hope and support through their own experiences of living with breast cancer.
Prof. Humaid Al-Shamsi, President of the Emirates Oncology Society, advised women not to delay seeking a professional medical opinion if they feel that they are at risk of breast cancer or if they think that they are exhibiting any of the symptoms that might indicate the disease. “Something that we have always stressed is the importance of catching the disease in the early stages because that means that the treatment will be easier and the chances of a full recovery at their highest.”
Mohamed Ezz Eldin, Head Gulf Countries, Innovative Medicines, Novartis, said the importance of forming strong partnerships across the healthcare sector to ensure that women everywhere receive the care and treatment that they need to get through such a difficult time in their lives. “Our mission has always been to improve the health of communities around the world, and for this we have to work together with healthcare providers, patients, and doctors to find out what more can be done to support women that are at risk and those that have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Listening to the patient stories and how they support each other has been nothing short of inspiring and has strengthened our resolve in continuing with our mission of reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives.”
Aisha Abdulla Al Mulla, Director of Friends of Cancer Patients, also urged women at the event to become comfortable with conducting regular self-check breast exams at home. Any abnormality or change should be treated as grounds for an immediate consultation with a doctor. “One of the biggest misconceptions that we continue to tackle is women thinking that they are not at risk of breast cancer simply because they have no family history of it. There are several factors that increase the chances of a woman developing breast cancer and we must be there to educate women about all of them. This is why our collaboration with Novartis on the Women in Pink initiative is so important.”
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According to the World Health Organisation, breast cancer is the most diagnosed form of cancer, accounting for 2.3 million new cases annually. Towards the end of 2020, it was recorded that there were 7.8 million women alive that had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past five years. Medical experts have said that breast cancer is a progressive disease, with small tumors that are likely to develop at an early stage. Studies have shown that early detection is likely to result in successful treatment, and a good prognosis. The recommended screening methods for early detection of the disease are mammography, clinical breast examination, and breast self-examination.