Saudi women to take breast cancer war to Everest

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Ten Saudi women will climb to the Mount Everest base camp in May as part of a campaign to raise breast cancer awareness.

After helping set the Guinness World Record for largest human awareness ribbon, Princess Reema Bint Bandar Bin Sultan Al-Saud and Zahra Breast Cancer Association have teamed up to launch the programme titled ’A Woman’s Journey: Destination Mount Everest‘, which is being held under the banners of Alf Khair and Al Bidayah Breastfeeding Resource and Women’s Awareness Center.

The programme, under the patronage of the Saudi Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, is also supported by Barclays Saudi Arabia and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic).

Aiming to inspire Saudi women to stay physically fit and educate the public on the causes and effects of breast cancer, organizers have assembled a team of 10 Saudi females related to a breast cancer victim or survivor and between the ages of 25 and 50 to climb to the Mount Everest base camp between May 7 and 21.

Several side events in the Kingdom will take place in conjunction with the main event and will seek to show that the fight against breast cancer is a global fight, said a statement.

“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 a 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’m honored and proud to lend my voice to this collective group effort,” said Princess Reema, who is a founding member of the Zahra Breast Cancer Association.

According to the Saudi Cancer Registry at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among Saudi women and around 8,000 cases are discovered each year of which 50 to 60 percent are diagnosed at a late stage. Despite government efforts, the rate of breast cancer has climbed from 7.6 per cent 10 years ago to its current high of 24 per cent of all cancer cases. Women over the age of 40 are at greatest risk and early diagnosis is crucial for increasing the chances of survival.

“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 so they can seek medical advice early. Countless studies have shown that the earlier breast cancer is detected, the higher the chances of survival,” said Dr Muna Baslaim, a breast surgeon and head of the Breast Unit at King Fahd General Hospital in Jeddah. “Women also need the support of society, family and friends in the fight against breast cancer,” she added.

“The campaign’s goals are three-fold: Spread awareness, encourage greater participation and promote healthier lifestyles. The Zahra Breast Cancer Association is privileged that HRH Princess Reema has taken up such a noble cause and we hope this May, Saudi women will join us when we climb Mount Everest, walk for 15 minutes a day in support of the climbers and help spread awareness about this deadly disease,” said Ola Abbass Al-Marzouky, ’A Woman’s Journey: Destination Mount Everest‘ campaign spokesperson, general supervisor for Makkah Region office, Zahra Breast Cancer Association, and a breast cancer survivor. – TradeArabia News Service

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