March 24, 2012

SAUDI ARABIA: 10 Saudi women take fight against breast cancer to Mount Everest

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia / Arab News / Life & Style / Offbeat / March 24, 2012

A woman walks past a display of a brain slice of patient "H.M." at the MIT 150 Exhibition, 
celebrating Massachusetts Institute of Technology's 150 year anniversary, in Cambridge 
in this January 7, 2011 file photo. (Reuters)

By ARWA AL-RIKABI

Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan and the Zahra Breast Cancer Association launched a campaign on Tuesday where 10 Saudi women will climb to the Mount Everest base camp in May.
The 10 climbers include Jude Al-Aitani, Asma Al-Sharif, Mashael Alhegelan, Mona Shahab, Noura Bouzo, Raha Al-Moharrak, Lina Almaeena, Samaher Mously, Hatun Madani, Alya Al-Sa’ad, Reema Al-Saud, and Marie Green. They will be accompanied by a filming crew.
The campaign, titled “A Woman's Journey: Destination Mount Everest,” will raise awareness about breast cancer and is being held under the patronage of the Saudi Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.
Under the banners of Alf Khair (the CSR arm of Alfa International Limited “Harvey Nichols”) and Al-Bidayah Breastfeeding Resource and Women's Awareness Center, Princess Reema is heading the campaign.
Explaining the aims of the campaign, the princess said: “Alf Khair and Al-Bidayah are leading advocates for women's causes in the Kingdom and we want NGOs, schools, universities, activists, the government, and media to be part of this campaign to form a network that not only builds awareness but helps us achieve our vision of having healthier and cancer-free Saudi women. I am honored and proud to lend my voice to this collective group effort.”
The campaign, which was organized by Princess Reema and Dr. Modi Batterjee, highlights awareness on breast cancer prevention through adapting healthy lifestyle habits and staying physically active.
This is based on extensive research published in major scientific journals worldwide indicating that physically active women have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than inactive women.
In a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, investigators found that the amount of activity needed to achieve a 23 percent reduction in risk of breast cancer was roughly equivalent to 3.25 hours of running or 13 hours of walking per week.
Due to the 8,000 cases of breast cancer being discovered annually in Saudi Arabia according to the Saudi Cancer Registry at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, making it the most common type of cancer in Saudi women, this campaign seeks to encourage Saudi women to spread awareness about breast cancer and its early detection.
“The campaign's goals are threefold: Spread awareness, encourage greater participation, and promote healthier lifestyles. The Zahra Breast Cancer Association is privileged that Princess Reema has taken up such a noble cause and we hope this May Saudi women will join us when we climb Mount Everest, and walk for 15 minutes a day in support of the climbers and help spread awareness about this deadly disease,” said campaign spokesperson and breast cancer survivor Ola Abbass Al-Marzouky, who is also general supervisor for Zahra’s Makkah office. Besides promoting exercise, the campaign focuses on early detection, since 50 to 60 percent of cases in Saudi Arabia are diagnosed at a late stage.
Dr. Muna Baslaim, a breast surgeon at King Fahd General Hospital in Jeddah, urges women to have routine checkups. “Breast cancer is on the rise in the Kingdom and early detection can prevent cancer. Women aged 40 and above should have an annual mammogram screening. Women in their 20's and 30's should be aware of their health and how their breasts feel so they can seek medical advice early,” she explained.
Princess Reema and Batterjee were inspired by their previous success in breaking the Guinness World Record on behalf of Zahra in 2010 by forming a human pink ribbon chain in Jeddah.
© 2010 Arab News
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