Saudi Arabia/World: The Month of Pink

October is global breast cancer awareness months.  American Bedu readers who have followed my blog over the years know this is a very personal topic for me.  For those who are newer to the blog I will recap my journey.

I have Stage IV metastatic breast cancer which means my cancer is not curable but treatable to maintain and/or slow down its growth.  My initial journey with breast cancer started in June 2008 while living in Riyadh.  I had always been diligent about doing monthly self breast exams and never forgot the day that I felt something that did not belong.  A follow-up mammogram started me on a journey that began in Riyadh and ultimately brought me back to the United States.  I continue my battle and am optimistic that I will begin a new clinical trial within two weeks.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer to affect women in Saudi Arabia and accounts for 22 per cent of all new cancers in women.  Over 8,000 Saudi Arabian women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and around 50 to 60 percent of cases are detected at an advanced stage.  If it is detected early enough there is a very good outlook for a cure.  However, in the Kingdom many Saudi women are reticent to come forward for an exam when they discover a lump on a breast.  A woman may feel scared to speak up or ashamed believing that she and her body are now “damaged.”

Towards removing fear and stigmas, the Ministry of Health has established the National Campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness which provides guidance and encouragement to Saudi women and their families.  Another proactive organization offering support, advice and services to women is the Zahra Breast Cancer Association.

Towards raising global awareness and education about breast cancer, the Zahra Breast Cancer Association, under the leadership of HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan al Saud led a group of Saudi women to the Mt. Everest Base camp in May 2012.  Each of the Saudi women participating in the climb had either been touched personally by breast cancer or had a loved one with a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Previously, in 2010, Zahra Breast Cancer Association made it into the Guinness book of world records for forming the worlds largest ‘pink ribbon’ human chain. 

My personal message to any woman battling against breast cancer is to remain strong, positive and faith focused.  Do not keep your fears bottled inside. Do not be shy or afraid to reach out for support and share your fears.  Live each day to the fullest. If in Saudi Arabia,  contact Zahra Breast Cancer Association where you can be put in touch with an understanding and caring support group.

    Some women may feel better sharing the emotions and challenges of their battle anonymously.  There are many online resources available such as:

Cancer Care

Cancer Hope Network

American Cancer Society

Inspire

Cancer Help

With the exception of Cancer Help the above cited organizations are based in the United States.  However online forums, resources and assistance are available to all.  Cancer Help is based in the UK and provides additional links for online cancer support in other countries around the world.

Last but not least I am personally available for any woman battling breast cancer and wants to chat with someone who has already “walked the walk” and can assuage fears and provide encouragement.  I can be reached at admin@americanbedu.com

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5 Responses

  1. Carol are you know I have had similar problems and would like to let your readers know that if they need support they can get in touch with me to talk about the fears they may have, especially those with very young children. My daughter was only 6 when I got sice the first time and with continual treatments I am still here 16 years later. Feel better. Dolores

  2. Dear Dolores,

    Bless you! Would you be willing to share your journey here on the blog? It could be as a comment to this post or if you’d like to email it to me, I’d be happy to have it as a post of its own, especially as this is global breast cancer awareness month. I think your journey can reach out and provide encouragement and hope to young mothers who are battling far more than I could.

  3. Carol, my question is shouldn’t there be more thorough exams when women visit ObGyns in the Kingdom? It turns out that I am expecting, 9 weeks along. I have seen the same female doctor 3 times & all she does are ultrasounds. When I asked she said here they don’t do Pap Smears or breast exams or even explain to women how to do self breast checks. This is scary. Myself I’m going home in 2 weeks to have a “proper” check up, but how about those who don’t have that options?

  4. Dear Rahma,

    It sounds like it may be your particular doctor. There are Saudi female doctors who are very thorough, although some will balk at the pap smear depending if the woman is married or single. If I were you, I’d ask friends for recommendations to another doctor.

  5. Hi Carol,
    Thanx for the info. I’ll in the process of changing hospitals anyway as I’m experiencing some difficulties.
    Hope you’re doing better!
    Love,
    Rahma

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