Lemonista: A Breast Cancer Awareness Booth with a Zesty Twist!

Breast cancer awareness is a sensitive issue for young people who may not always be ready or receptive to talking about such (let’s admit: scary) things even if they know they may be at risk. So when we were invited to take part in AUB’s Annual Civic Engagement Conference and Fair, we immediately got to thinking of different ways to reach and engage the students so that we may get our message across more effectively.

Less than two years ago, we teamed up with Worldwide Breast Cancer to adapt their brilliant flyers into Arabic (with the translation support of Samar Hajj-Ali) and so we looked no further than those “lemons” as a base for building our booth’s concept on. Lemons are fresh, lemons are fun and lemons make lemonade – we were onto something!

We decided to take the twelve signs to watch for one step further by creating plastic models to represent each one. Students had a chance to look more closely at them, ask questions and try to find a match with some of the actual lemons decorating our booth. Most weren’t aware of all the signs that may indicate breast cancer developing in the chest, besides a lump, so it was an eye-opening experience for all. Lemonista-2370 The highlight for those visiting the booth must have been the interactive “Wheel of Lemons” game we developed that included eight different categories of questions or games to play, based on where the dial pointed. Categories including “Mythbuster”, “Celebrities” and the unexpected “Wild Card” gave participants a chance to win a cup of free, home-made lemonade (lovingly made by Teta Laurice, Loryne’s granny). Lemonista-2378 While the questions ranged from easy to tricky (can you guess the answer of the question in the picture above without seeing the answer?), no one passed on the challenge and eagerly took turns guessing for the right answer. Even those who didn’t win a lemonade were good sports about it and left with something out of the experience, whether it was a chance to ask a question that’s been on their mind or simply learning a new breast cancer fact they didn’t know about before (such as that the left breast is more prone to developing cancer that the right one). Lemonista-2637 The reactions and questions we received during the two days of the fair were honestly the most significant part of the experience for us. For example, the second the wheel marker would stop at “Celebrities”, Angelina Jolie would be the first thing on their mind – which is a great sign of the awareness she’s shed although her reasons for doing it (as a preventative measure rather than a treatment for cancer) wasn’t as clear for some of the students. This gave us the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with them about what she’d done and raise awareness on genetic testing.

Other students had bigger concerns on their mind which would come out in conversation before or after playing the game, including how to self-check and assess their risk if a family member had had cancer. Some even felt comfortable enough sharing a personal experience they may not have had a chance to share otherwise, which was incredibly touching for us. Lemonista-2585 More than 200 cups of lemonade later (over a span of two days), we can safely say that our mission was accomplished and that our “Lemonista” awareness booth had a positive impact on all those who took part, making all the hard-work planning and preparing for it even more worthwhile.

View highlights of our booth in this video montage:

Whether it was a new fact learned, a question answered, a laugh shared – or maybe simply a refreshing drink received – everyone left with a little something and we look forward to spreading more awareness in this way in the future. Where should “The Lemonista” set up her awareness booth next? Keep posted!

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Thank you to AUB and the CCECS team for inviting us to take part in their fair which is key to developing civic engagement for students and building a more positive future. A very big thank you goes to our amazing volunteers Aya, Myriam and Catherine for all their help and dedication, Teta Laurice for preparing all the lemonade for us, and to our talented board member, Mira for her guidance in developing the concept for the booth.

Know 2 Beat: Engaging the Youth in Cancer Awareness

Awareness campaigns for cancer tend to be (most often) developed by and for adults, but what happens when the tables are turned and the younger generation is the one creating the message for their peers and communities?

That’s what Know to Beat is all about and it is from that base that we teamed up with the Faireface Association, May Jallad Foundation and Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation (LBCF) to develop a cancer awareness competition that would bring in the creative talents of 15 public schools from the Beirut district.

With the support of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, we began our journey in the Fall of 2014: preparing for the competition and visiting the schools to introduce them to the project. Each group of students from the schools had a choice of one of five cancers: breast, cervical, lung, skin and testicular cancer – cancers that are not only common in Lebanon, but that would be of interest for the youth to focus on.The students taking part would have to learn more about cancer and its prevention methods by conducting their own research (we provided some helpful links to get them started here), interviewing specialists and then developing campaign materials (a poster, flyer and short movie) to spread awareness to their community.

When we first started visiting the schools, we noticed that the majority of the students didn’t know much about cancer, but that didn’t discourage them from taking part nor did they shy away from the subject. On the contrary: the taboo that often comes with the disease didn’t affect them and they were determined to develop the best project possible. IMG_1031 IMG_0992 IMG_1165 Teamwork among the students was also very evident during the process. The students divided themselves up to each work on a different part of the project. At Amir Shakib Reslan School, for example, one of the students volunteered right away to direct the video his team would submit because he has a passion for filmmaking and would like to pursue it as his future career. Each group (consisting of 10-15 students from each school) had around three months to work on their projects and submit the campaign materials  for evaluation by a carefully-assembled jury.

Once we started receiving the submissions, the enthusiasm was at its peak – we couldn’t wait to see what the students had come up with! It was interesting to see that 60% of the schools (9 schools) had chosen to focus on lung cancer, followed by cervical cancer (3 schools), breast cancer (2 schools) and testicular cancer (1 school). None of the schools had selected to work on skin cancer awareness. The high number of schools choosing to shed light on lung cancer reflects a real concern for the increasing number of people smoking – among the youth and otherwise.

The reason for each school’s choice varied. Second Achrafieh Public School chose testicular cancer: a choice interestingly made by the girls in the group in order to raise awareness to boys and the men in their life. Laur Mghayzel Public School for Girls opted for cervical cancer instead of breast cancer because there isn’t enough awareness on this issue that affects all women – whether its a mother, daughter or grandmother. For others, the project had a personal significance for the students, such as at Jamil Rawas High School, that dedicated their project to a beloved teacher who had passed away from lung cancer. K2BInvite_March11UNESCO_EnglishLast Wednesday (March 11th), the winners of the top projects were revealed and they received their prizes at a special ceremony. Upon entering the hall at Unesco Palace, you could instantly see the eagerness of the students. They were all (rightfully!) proud of their projects hanging along the walls, taking photographs of each other, reminiscing on the process among each other and sharing a laugh. IMG_5925 IMG_5962 And the winners were.. cue the drumroll please!

First Place:

Click on the image to watch their video online.

Click on the image to watch their video online.

First Place:

First Place: Gebran Andraos Tueini Public High School

Second Place: 

Click on the image to watch their video online.

Click on the image to watch their video online.

Second-Place

Second Place: Zahia Salman Public High School

Third Place:

Click on the image to watch their video online.

Click on the image to watch their video online.

Third Place: Ras El-Nabeh Public High School for Boys

Third Place: Ras El-Nabeh Public High School for Boys

The reactions – from the students to the principal and teachers – was truly priceless! It’s very rewarding to see how this project had such a positive impact on all those involved.

This adorable little model made an appearance to support her school - who ended up winning first place!

This adorable little model made an appearance to support her school – who ended up winning first place!

Actively involving the youth in such preventative healthcare helps eliminate the taboo that comes with cancer at an earlier age while also spreading awareness to their surrounding in an engaging way. The creativity and dedication demonstrated by the students that took part is very promising to a brighter, cancer-free future.

Let’s WhatsApp: Chatting About Nutrition

On March 4th, we held our first “Let’s WhatsApp” group chat for Breast Cancer patients and survivors. This was the first of an on-going support program we’ll be offering to help connect patients from across Lebanon and provide them an opportunity to benefit from specialists’ advice from the comfort of their own home. S1Nutrition_Feb2015_AR

For our first “Let’s WhatsApp”, clinical nutritionist Diane Nicolas, who has extensive experience working with cancer patients, was the featured specialist who volunteered her time and expertise for the session on Nutrition.

The group chat setting was intimate with five women (the majority of which had never met in person) taking part and asking their questions on topics of interest to each of them while also sharing their own tips amongst each other. Their enthusiasm and curiosity about the subject was evident from the onset!

Trigging the first discussion was the link between nutrition and cancer – and the majority agreed, that yes, it does play a role. One of the patients held a different perspective as despite having a very healthy lifestyle and diet, she still got diagnosed with cancer. So is there or isn’t there a link? Diane shed insight by explaining that although improper nutrition doesn’t necessarily lead to cancer, following the right diet and maintaining your health increases your chances of preventing it. Genetics and the environment are very important factors that also play a role, so it isn’t just nutrition that may affect your diagnosis.

Coffee was another hot topic among the women: How much was too much? What were the benefits and was there harm in adding coffee creamers, like Coffeemate, to ones cup? Another topic of much interest was meats, chickens and fish. Questions ranged from how best to cook it (Well-done? Over-cooked? Tip: Avoid burning it!) to whether eating local mezza specialties like raw meat (kebbe and kasbe naye) were harmful. Even sushi came up! LetsWhatsApp_ChatQuestion1 Topics that always often raise question marks, like the rumored link of soy to cancer, how much chocolate is good for you and even the role of ashta in helping one lost weight came up too and were discussed further. (PS: The answers to all the above are below) LetsWhatsApp_ChatQuestion2 Diane was very helpful and quickly answered all the questions brought up during the chat. She additionally helped break the ice at the start so that no one felt uncomfortable. Jokes, questions and even personal tips were being shared among the participants by the end of the chat – a very positive sign!

For those who missed the chat or were curious about the topics covered, we’ve compiled a short summary for you below of the top nutrition tips shared by Diane Nicolas:

  • Coffeemate is not bad, but it should preferably be replaced with a more nutritious food such as milk (liquid or powdered are both good). Skimmed milk? Even better!
  • Chocolate in moderation is not harmful for the health, but we must be careful not to gain weight because weight gain is closely linked to cancer.
  • Chicken is not harmful if you trust the source as some chicken is injected with hormones so be careful where you get or eat it from (the size of the chicken is a helpful indication)
  • A myth that was challenged? Kachta and avocado don’t help you lose weight. It’s all about reducing calories. One avocado is actually equivalent to 8 spoons of oil so avoid eating too much of it.

 The Dos:

  • Eat Fresh
  • Eat fruits, vegetables and legumes more often.
  • Eat only fresh Frish…
  • Consume meat 2 times per week, try to avoid raw meats
  • Eat preferably chicken breast.
  • Consume more whole grain Lebanese bread (“2am7a kemle”)
  • Limit your coffee intake to 2 cups per day.

The Donts:

  • Don’t eat caned or smoked tuna and salmon.
  • Don’t eat over-cooked meat (ma7rou2).
  • Avoid raw meat (kassbeh and kebbe Nayye)
  • Avoid soybeans as they are genetically modified.
  • If your treatment includes cortisone, do not abuse sugar and deserts.
  • Our Mediterranean diet is very healthy and complete, so don’t search for exotic foods in order to be healthier or to prevent diseases.

“Don’t eat less, but EAT RIGHT; this is the response to all illness and diseases linked to nutrition. Flash news: We are lucky to be Lebanese since our diet is known to be the best among hundred of diets all over the world. We have the healthiest mix and match: 3adas b7amod, taboule, fatouch, ma7aché, sbenikh, mloukhieh, bemye, makhlouta, labne, jebne bayda, kebbe… ” – Diane Nicolas

LetsWhatsApp_Feedback

“I’d like to thank every person that took part in the group chat and encourage One Wig Stand for this amazing project. We are lucky to have such a support that offers knowledge and care at the same time. Thank you!” – Diane Nicolas

All the feedback we received from those who took part was very encouraging and we’re looking forward to hosting more of these group chats on different topics to benefit patients and survivors in the future. Thank you to all the ladies who took part and to the lovely Diane Nicolas for lending her time and expertise for these sessions!

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Do you have a subject in mind that you’d like us to discuss in the next WhatsApp session? Is there a certain specialist you’d like to recommend who’d be interested in sharing their knowledge with others? Please feel free to suggest a topic or specialist you’d like to chat with us in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to make it happen!

If you’re a breast cancer patient, survivor or caregiver that would be interested in signing up for the next session, please send us an email to: info@onewigstand.org or call us at +961 79 158 471 so we keep you posted.

More than 400 Donors Make the Cut!

On Sunday October 19th, the central galleria at City Centre Beirut was a-buzz with crowds of people who had come from across Lebanon for one unified mission: to make the cut and donate their hair for women fighting cancer. Women, children, and even men, lined up for this opportunity to donate 20 centimeters (and the majority more!) of their hair at the hands of twelve talented stylists who were offering free cuts and styling on this special occasion.

Photo by Nareg D.B.

Photo by Nareg D.B.

In its second year, and following the wide success of its first edition, Make the Cut is a patient support initiative developed by One Wig Stand, and held in collaboration with L’Oreal Professionnel, to collect hair donations from the public in order to be able to make wigs for Lebanese women fighting cancer. Through the hair donations received, the organization is able to provide wigs to any patient in need (free-of-charge) to help them cope better with the dreaded side effects of chemotherapy and boost their self-image as they recover.

Photo by: Nareg D.B.

Photo by: Nareg D.B.

Photo by: Nareg D.B.

Photo by: Nareg D.B.

Photo by: Charly Hatem

Photo by: Charly Hatem

Photo by: Nareg D.B.

Adding a special touch: Pink ribbons were painted on donors’ nails by Essie – Photo by: Nareg D.B.

This special Make the Cut hair donation event, coinciding with the international breast cancer month, exceeded all expectations with more than 400 donors making the cut in one afternoon, including the renowned actress Marcelle Marina. Other memorable highlights of the day include two brave little girls from the Bekaa Valley who boldly shaved their hair off to shed added awareness to what patients go through when they lose their hair.

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Renowned actress Marcelle Marina makes the cut with stylist Souheil Haber – Photo by: Charly Hatem

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One of the little girls that boldly shaved her head at the event to support patients – Photo by: Charly Hatem

Photo by: Nareg D.B.

Photo by: Nareg D.B.

Alongside everyone who came to cut their hair that day, the mall was full of those who also had come to show their support for the cause and witness the bold transformations, encouragingly cheering and clapping from the sidelines. Donors were additionally treated to a commemorative certificate for their contribution and a goody bag with valuable gifts from L’Oreal Professionnel, Kellogg’s and Essie.

Photo by: Nareg D.B.

Photo by: Nareg D.B.

The busy, yet extremely rewarding, day was marked with fresh new looks at the hands of stylists who worked non-stop to ensure donors left with big smiles on their faces, bringing the final tally of the day to approximately 530 ponytails (including previously-cut donations that were also dropped off at the venue). This number should translate into at least 65 wigs at the average production rate of 6 to 8 ponytails per wig, which the organization will be coordinating with Hair & More to manufacture into wigs for any patient in need.

Photo by: Nareg D.B.

Photo by: Nareg D.B.

Photo by: Charly Hatem

Photo by: Charly Hatem

View more photos from the event: Album #1 and Album #2.

Event Sponsors: City Centre Beirut, DIGIPrint, Essie, Hair & More, Kellogg’s Special K, Merlun Group, RTB Productions, Sakr Printing and Teleperformance.

Event Hair Stylists: Bare’, Georges Nakhle, Gilbert Irany, Jackyo, Joseph el-Haber, Juliano Asmar, Pace e Luce, Peter Abou Jaoude, Souheil Haber, Tony Obeid, Wissam Lebbous and Younes Eid.

For more information about Make the Cut, please visit: www.onewigstand.org/makethecut and www.facebook.com/makethecutcampaign

To inquire about a wig for a patient in need, please contact us on 79-158471 or 01-203112.

Events: Christmas Bra-zaar!

You’ve been to a ton of Christmas bazaars over the years and nothing much changes each time – lots of clutter, lots of the same. How about this year you try something different?

Let us ask you this: Have you ever been to a Christmas Bra-zaar? No? Well, you’re in for a unique Christmas event taking place on December 21 and 22, 2011 at One Wig Stand’s space in Achrafieh.

Also, for those who’ve been following the Bras for a Cause Middle East campaign for the past few months and haven’t had the chance to grab your favorite bras from the “Look Good, Feel Good” Collection – then you don’t want to miss this night. The Collection itself will only be on sale at regional outlets until the end of the year, but we still have plenty of sizes and bra styles waiting for you at the Bazaar. Why not give a gift to your friend, mother or sister with a special message? The bras were designed specially for the Bras for a Cause campaign and features the creative talent of regional designers all united for one cause.

In case you didn’t have a chance to grab your favorite bra (or couldn’t find your size) from the “Look Good, Feel Good” Collection by Bras for a Cause Middle East at the regional outlets – we have a special night in store!

The Collection will only be on sale until the end of the year, but we still have plenty of sizes and bra styles waiting for you! Why not give a gift to your friend, mother or sister with a special message?

The bras were designed specially for the Bras for a Cause campaign and features the creative talent of regional designers all united for one cause.

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BRA PRICES AND SIZES:
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Bra prices are very affordable and range between $18-30. Various sizes available for B to D cups.

K-Lynn Lingerie Specialist Tiffany Karam Youssef will be available at the event to help with bra fittings for anyone interested to get the right size and suggestions for the optimal bra for your body.

Full proceeds of all bra sales will be donated to regional breast cancer organizations as part of the large-scale campaign organized by One Wig Stand and Fustany.com Find out more about the Bras for a Cause Middle East campaign:www.brasforacause.me

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MASTECTOMY BRAS:
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We’ll also be selling mastectomy bras if you know someone who needs one. Trust us, they’ll love the sexy designs with comfortable and discreet prosthesis pockets.

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DATES & TIMES:
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Wednesday Dec. 21: 3-9 pm
Thursday Dec. 22: 3-9 pm

Pass by any time – it’ll be open house. We’ll have a fitting room area for anyone who wants to try the bras before purchasing.

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WHERE’S IT HAPPENING?
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One Wig Stand’s space in Achrafieh, Lebanon, right next to ABC Ashrafieh if you’re driving up from Spinneys. Very easy to find.

Feel free to call us on 01-203112 for additional directions.

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VOLUNTEERS AND COLLABORATIONS
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Wanna help out? Have some creative ideas to make this an even more fun, memorable night? Contact us at onewigstand@gmail.com

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SPECIAL THANKS
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K-LYNN Lingerie
http://www.klynn.co/

ESMOD: International Fashion Education Group
www.esmodbeyrouth.com

LBC: Helwi Beirut
http://www.lbcgroup.tv/Helwi-Beirut/

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Facebook Event: Christmas Bra-zaar! (Ladies Only)

Spread the word to all your girlfriends and see you on the 22nd!