In a country where it is estimated that 1 out of every 9 women is at risk of breast cancer during their lifetime, Pakistan has the highest incidence of breast cancer in comparison to other Asian countries. According to the International Agency of Research on Cancer 2018 report, 34,066 new cases of breast cancer had been reported in Pakistani women.
Hence, in a bid to spread awareness about breast cancer – from encouraging self-examination procedures, looking out for symptoms and when to seek medical help, COLABS held an eye-opening session at its Gulberg premises in partnership with Ailaaj, a digital healthcare company (based out of the COLABS) and Pink Ribbon, a local charity organization.
With participation from Dr. Uneeba Syed, an Endocrinologist, Dr. Qaiser Perveen, a General Practitioner, Dr. Rebecca Tariq, a Nutritionist, and Omer Aftab, the founder of Pink Ribbon, the breast cancer awareness session was attended by a number of COLABS’ community and team members.
“Talking about breast cancer has always been a challenge in Pakistan,” stated Omer Aftab, the founder of Pink Ribbon at the session. “But over the past 2-3 years things have begun to change. You see TV channels promoting awareness, you see organizations, TV anchors, and celebrities wearing pink ribbons. This is a positive change in our country, however, this issue is so vast in Pakistan – imagine 10 million women are at risk of breast cancer in our country.”
“There’s a lot of societal pressure around the subject of breast cancer in Pakistan. Women are encouraged to stay quiet about it,” said Dr. Uneeba Syed, an Endocrinologist, at the session. “There’s still a strong social stigma around breast cancer and cancer in general, but events like this not only help in raising awareness but also in making women feel safe, seek support, and feel confident to talk about their experiences.”
Niha Iqbal, the Manager of Recruitment & OD at COLABS, said that while breast cancer might be a difficult conversation to have, it’s a necessary one.
“It’s a great feeling to be part of an organization that makes dedicated efforts to raise awareness about this dreadful disease,” she said. “This October, our community members, particularly Ailaaj, and every team member at COLABS joined hands to be a part of this much-needed conversation and support the cause of breast cancer awareness. This is precisely what COLABS stands for: so that people can collaborate and come together to create an impact for things that truly matter.”