I think by now many of us realise that October is the month dedicated to breast cancer awareness and the colour pink is synonymous to it. Media has done a great job by creating awareness as have so many hospitals, NGOs, institutions and people who are passionate about finding a way forward in all this.
Over the years, as I did my bit, I also realised that a lot of people will just come to make the right noises at the right time, become relevant in the news and then forget all about the cause in the next 11 months or until the next opportunity to be in the media arises.
Two of my Mum’s sisters have had mastectomies done, my mum was also diagnosed with a lump but thankfully it didn’t turn out to be cancer. About a fortnight ago, I decided to offer my support to anyone who wanted it. I offered to accompany anyone who was too scared to go alone for a mammogram and I put this out on social media.
This ended up gaining momentum I hadn’t dreamt of. The wonderful people at MP Shah Hospital got in touch with me and told me of the great offers they had running this month on the screenings and tests. Besides that, they also pledged to waive the fee for anyone not able to afford the tests and I was completely taken aback. I know that the cost to run a machine for every single patient runs very high so when they promised to waive the fee I was truly touched by this.
I sent out this message to people in every way that I could and I gained a lot of support from many who shared what I had to say, offered to come give their moral support too, be involved, and above all, get tested. I got a lot of women telling me that they finally stopped procrastinating about the tests because of what I had posted.
Last Saturday, I availed myself at the hospital all day and I was stunned at the number of women who came in to get the checks done. The hospital staff was wonderful. They went out of their way (or maybe this is how they are at all times!) to be as helpful as they could be. My colleagues from the Star and I did take some pictures of us as we gathered with each other and that was that. It was just to document to ourselves what a fulfilling day we had. Each one of us did a different test to tell you of the experience and if you wish to catch up with that, please grab a copy of Wednesday’s edition of the Star or just visit the Star website and read it all there.
I just want to say a great big thank you to everyone who got involved, to the donors who got in touch and pledged money to the hospital towards this cause, to my colleagues at East FM — Riya Sharma and Seema Sarkar Manji — my girls at the Star — Karen, Brenda and Bee — the MP Shah hospital, especially Manoj Shah, who after seeing my status update on Facebook right away offered to help out and put me in touch with the right people, to everyone who turned up for support and especially to everyone who got tested. Thank you. Please remember that cancer won’t just strike in the month of October. It will not look at your race, your religion, sex, height, weight, financial situation or anything. It just strikes. Please do look after yourself and be kind enough to yourself to get checked.
Early detection means early treatment.