A large number of women are making their way to a breast cancer awareness booth in Dolmen City, Clifton, to learn about the disease and how to take precautionary measures.
“I have never been able to self-examine so I don’t even know if I am suffering from breast cancer or not,” said 37-year-old Erum Amir, admitting that there is a lack of awareness in Pakistan about the disease and discussing it has become a taboo. “I will go home and read this,” she said as she grabbed a brochure from the stall.
Pinktober, marking the month of October to create awareness about breast cancer, is being celebrated at the mall by International Foundation and Garments Pakistan and Triumph International. The stall was set up on the first floor of the shopping mall on Friday and Saturday.
“Slowly and gradually, awareness is coming within our households about this illness,” said Noreen Nasir, a 37-year-old mother of three. She admitted that she had never checked for lumps herself but agreed that it is a growing disease in the country, hence, a strong cause of concern for herself.
Even Amir said that she stopped at the booth after reading several news reports on the alarming rise in cases of breast cancer. “When it comes to even talking about it [breast cancer], we fear it ourselves and don’t want to be associated with it in any manner,” she said. “Even though this disease is killing so many Pakistani women every year, there is a strong perception in our society that it is a stigma, and that sadly marks the end of the story for us.”
The brochure available at the booth indicated the three steps that doctors generally recommend for all women. Firstly, women should conduct self-examination once a month, then they should get a professional breast examination done once a year and then they should get a mammogram, which is a breast x-ray, done every year once they are more than 35 years old.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2014.