Last October, Conde Nast Traveler released its Readers’ Choice Awards and Beirut, Lebanon made it to #20 on that list, outranking even Paris, Barcelona and Venice. It was uplifting news to hear, especially considering the volatile situation here and travel warnings discouraging tourists to come. Lebanon has a certain magic that still manages to shine through.
But being on international lists isn’t always a thing to be proud of or to celebrate, especially if that list names the 50 countries in the world with the highest breast cancer rates.
According to a study conducted by WHO in 2012, an estimated 78.8 of 100,000 Lebanese women will be diagnosed with the disease in her lifetime. That puts us at #24 on that list, right below Canada.
Sharing this here is by no means intended to scare you, but rather to bring it to your attention as it says a lot about where we stand.
True, there’s a lot more breast cancer awareness in Lebanon compared to even 5 years ago and when October rolls around, pink ribbons sprinkle the streets, malls and media. The great thing is that more women are catching it earlier on and, as a result, getting treated for it.
However, although we have a much clearer picture of cancer’s realities and numbers than in the past, it doesn’t help qualm the whole bunch of other questions we have the second we learn that a loved one is diagnosed with breast cancer when there is no family history there. Is it our lifestyle? Is it our diet? Is it the pollution? Is it stress? Is it all the above or none of the above?
Breast cancer is affecting so many women all around us here and it feels like everyone’s being touched by it in one way or another. The feeling may be amplified because its our field of work or because we’re a small population where everyone seems to know everyone, but it’s no longer just in our heads that it feels a bit much. The numbers are reading loud and clear.
Something needs to change, and hopefully soon, because I really want to get Lebanon OFF this particular list and the only way we can do it is by understand what needs to change.
Please don’t be shy to share your reactions, ideas and questions with us.