Little BIG Things You Can Do This October

As of October 1st, we’ve introduced a new daily post series of awareness tips that we’ll be sharing via our facebook page for the entire month. They’re all small things that won’t require much time or effort but will help you learn in small doses more about breast health, early detection signs and other activities you can do to show your support for the cause.

Try to put them to practice whenever possible this month:

Thanks to the help of our team of wonderful volunteers, we’ll also be sharing the daily posts in Arabic so more women from the region can benefit from them too:

Arabic Translation: Samira El-Ghoul

Arabic Translation: Nesrine Chami

Arabic Translation: Soha Menassa

Be sure to check our page daily this month and share the ones you find particularly valuable with others to spread the awareness. If you have any recommendations for other “Little Big Things” someone can do during October, let us know by email to info@onewigstand.org.

Breast Cancer Update: What Every Interested Person Should Know

Today we attended the 4th Annual Women’s Health Symposium at Clemenceau Medical Center (CMC), organized in partnership with Johns Hopkins Medicine International. Although the symposium was targeted mostly towards doctors and medical professionals, we benefitted greatly from the community lecture “Breast Cancer Update: What Every Interested Person Should Know” by Dr. Nagi Khouri.

Nagi Khouri, M.D. – Director, Division of Breast Imaging at Johns Hopkins Medicine

The presentation started with a focus on the growing numbers of breast cancer cases around the world. Now although it may appear that there’s many more cases in Lebanon than other parts of the world, that’s in large part due to the smaller population ratio.

.. the percentage of breast cancer, even though by incidence is a lot lower, it appears to be that we actually see by percentages and by numbers a larger number of young women because there is so many more [by population]. It’s not that the risk is increasing.. That’s very important to understand.

The highest number of cases recorded were in North America, Western Europe and Australia. Numbers are however increasing in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In 2010, 1.5 million cases were recorded worldwide – almost double what it was in 1990. It’s important to note though that the curve of survival has also changed in the past 20 years due to drastic improvements in treatment.

Worldwide Breast Cancer Incidence Rates

Turning then towards the risk factors leading to breast cancer, Dr. Khouri explained that:

One of the most important questions for any women is: Am I at risk for developing breast cancer? And who is at risk? Many women say “I’m not getting a mammogram.. We don’t have any predisposing factor”.. 75% of women who develop breast cancer [in fact] share two risk factors: Being a woman and increasing age – usually after the age of 40.. So basically, every woman is at risk for developing breast cancer.. When there’s a family history, it’s an added risk.

It’s recommended that all women as of the age of 40 do an annual mammography (and not every other year as other practices may advocate). Dr. Khouri stressed this point several times during the presentation. 60% (if not more, which is the goal) of breast cancers should be picked up without anyone actually feeling anything in the breast.

The density of breasts actually plays a major role in the detection process. Fat in the breast is actually “a blessing” that renders the breast transparent in the mammogram and revealing any abnormality more clearly than in denser tissues. Women with implants will need to take twice as many pictures and it’s also dependent on where the implant is placed with regards to the breast muscle (ie. in front or behind the muscle).

Mammography is not perfect and its sensitivity will differ by case but it’s the best thing we have so far.

How do we know that mammographies save lives? Remember, mammography is only for detection. If a woman detects breast cancer but doesn’t get treated, then we haven’t really achieved anything..

In the Arab world 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are not at the curable stages (stage 3 and 4) which was the case in the Western world 30 years ago. Why such a large discrepancy in the developing world? It’s due to a lack of awareness, education and early detection – and getting the full treatment of course.

Image Source: WebMD

Dr. Khouri also brought up a significant point regarding the importance of self-check exams for every woman:

A lot of the cancers are picked up by women in the shower.. I encourage women to be familiar with their breasts and start that education very early on, in their school [for example], so that a woman is not embarrassed to examine herself. I don’t like to say examine – I prefer to say “be familiar”. Get to know your breasts the same way you know about your nose.. It encourages a woman to be responsible and think about her breast health, including doing a clinical examination of the breast periodically.

If you spot a lump in your breast and you get it checked, never leave without knowing why. You need to get an explanation from your physician. Another cautionary point Dr. Khouri brought forward was that all biopsies should be done only with a needle and not through surgery. It actually harms the woman’s cancer treatment if the biopsy is done by surgery.

No surgical biopsies.. No – ZERO! All women should know that.

Patients-focussed breast care is key and should be accessible, timely, sophisticated, coordinated and comprehensive. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions to better understand your condition. That’s where the right kind of awareness and education can also play a significant role in giving the patient options for their treatment.

Those were just a few of the many key points covered in Dr. Khouri’s presentation. All in all, the presentation was very informative but our only regret was that there weren’t enough women in the audience who could have benefitted from this wealth of knowledge. Hopefully the next symposium will attract even more public attention and further spread awareness from a medical perspective.

Interview with Cansurvive: Insight on Breast Cancer in Egypt

تعد الجمعية المصرية لدعم مرضى السرطان من الجمعيات الرائدة في مجال خدمة مرضى السرطان والناجين منه في مصر. و كنّا قد أجرينا حديث مع احد المسؤولين في الجمعية لنستعرض أبرز نشاطاتها وكيف تساعد مرضى  السرطان والنصائح الي تقدمها

? ماهينسبةالمصابينبسرطانالثديفيمصر؟وعلىأيعمريؤثراجمالا

نسبة الاصابة في مصر 30% من مجمل السرطانات. معدل الاصابة 12500 لسنة 2011

نسبة الاصابة أعلى في السيدات فوق سن ال45

كيفتتجاوبالمصابةبسرطانالثديحينتعرفبمرضها؟هلتخافأنتعلناصابتها؟

في بداية التشخيص بـمرض السرطان يشعر المريض بالخوف, الوحدة, والحزن الشديد وهذه الاحاسيس تؤثر بشكل سلبي على عملية الشفاء. معظم المرضى يتخيلون أن حياتهم قد انتهت أن هذا التشخيص يعني حكم بالموت!  كثير من السيدات تشعر بالخجل من أن تعلن اصابته وكذالك الأهل يشعرون في بعض الأحيان أن هناك شيء يعيب السيدة المصابة بالأخص التي لم تتزوج بعد. طبعا هذا لقلة التوعية والجهل بالمرض. من أكثر الجمل التي يقال “كنت لوحدي, مفيش حد حاسس بيا”

هناك نماذج العكس تماما, عند معرفتها بالاصابة بسرطان الثدي أخذته تحديا وأصبح لديها القوة والايمان أنها ستتغلب عليه. هذه الحالات هي التي نحاول أن نجمعها مع المرضى للاستفادة من خبراتها والدعم النفسي.

كيفيتعاملالمجتمعمعالمصابينبمرضالسرطان؟

دائما بنظرة شفقة. كأنها حكم الموت. كثير من الناس لا تقول سرطان يقولون “المرض الوحش” ذلك لقلة التوعية.

كبفتهتم (CanSurvive) بالمصابينوماهيالنشاطاتالتيتقدمها؟

طموحنا 

أن نعمل دائما على توفير النصح، التوعية والدعم لمرضى السرطان. إن رفع الوعي باحتياجات المرضى والتحديات التي تواجههم من الأمور الأساسية لحشد كافة سبل الدعم التي يمكن أن يقدمها المجتمع بالإضافة إلى المؤسسات الطبية والصحية.

ماذانفعل

للمرضى

توفير المعلومات التي تساعد على تفهم أبعاد المرض وبدائل العلاج المتاحة

• توفير أدوات ومناهج علمية للنصح الذاتي، لتمكين المرضى والناجين من السرطان بتوعية الآخرين بالأبعاد الصحية والنفسية للإصابة

• التواصل مع المرضى والناجين بهدف تبادل الخبرات حول التكيف مع الإصابة بالسرطان

• توفير الدعم الطبي والنفسي للتخفيف من الآثار النفسية التي قد تصاحب مرحلة التشخيص بالمرض

للأسرة،الأصدقاءوالقائمينعلىالرعايةالصحية 

• توعية القائمين على رعاية المرضى بأفضل الطرق لرعايتهم ومساعدتهم

• توفير الدعم المتخصص لمساعدة أقارب المريض وذويه على التأقلم مع الإصابة

للمجتمع 

• نسعى لتنظيم حملات متنوعة لتوفير رعاية صحية أفضل وفرص عادلة لتلقي العلاج

• توفير فرص الدعم المادي للمرضى وكذلك المساعدة من خلال العمل التطوعي

• رفع الوعي بأساليب الوقاية من الإصابة والاكتشاف المبكر

“باربي من غير شعر ولازلت جميلة” – Posted on Cansurvive’s Facebook Page with a positive message

الطعاملهتأثيرعلىالصحة, ماهيأنواعالمأكولاتالتيتخففالاصابةبهذاالمرَض؟وماهيالأنواعالتيينصحأنتأكلمنهاالمرأةالمصابةبسرطانالثدي؟

للوقاية من السرطان يجب التخلص من الوزن الزائد وتجنب الاكثار من تناول الدهون وخاصة الدهون الحيوانية, و تجنب المأكولات الدهنية والسكريات والألوان الصناعية والكحوليات.

تناول الألياف والتي تتوفر في الحبوب والبذور والخضروات والفاكهة تساعد على الوقاية من السرطان.

تناول المأكولات التي تحتوي على عناصر مضادة للأكسدة تساعد على حماية الجسم وتنقيته من المواد الضارة قبل أن تتلف خلايا الجسم.

من الفواكه المفيدة:

 • التوت (بجميع أنواعه)  والفراولة والعنب لما فيهم من مواد مضاد للأكسدة قوية

• المانجو والبطيخ والبرتقال والجر يب فروت والكيوي لما فيهم من ألياف و فيتامين C

• الرمان يحتوي على إلاغيتانين التي تعيق نمو الخلايا السرطانية

• التفاح الأخضر لما فيه من ألياف وفيتامينات ومواد مضادة للأكسدة

من الخضروات المفيدة:

• تناول الخضروات الcruciferous مثل القرنبيط, والبروكولي والتي تحتوي على مواد قوية مضادة للسرطان (isothiocyanates)

• كثرة تناول الخضروات ذات اللون الأخضر كالجرجير والسبانخ لم تحتويه من مواد مضادة للأكسدة والألياف

تقليل تناول اللحوم الحمراء واستبدالها بالسمك الذي يحتوي على الحمض الهني الأوميجا 3 والذي يحصن الجسم ضد الالتهابات والأمراض السرطانية.

أظهرت دراسة حديثة أن الجوز يساعد على الحد من أخطار الاصابة بسرطان الثدي لاحتوائه غلى مكونات صحية ومواد مضادة للأكسدة وأحماض الأوميغا 3

شرب الشاي الأخضر لما فيه من مواد مضاضة للأكسدة وأيضا شرب حليب الصويا الذي يساعد على الكثافة المعدنية للعظام عند السيدات كما أنه غني بهرمون الاستروجن الذي تفقده المرأة في سن الأربعين.

علاج السرطان مرهق وله أعراض جانبية كثيرة. على المرأة التي تحت العلاج أكل البروتينات (البيض,السمك,منتجات الألبان) والأطعمة الغنية بالكالوريز (العسل) وذلك لتمديد الجسم بالطاقة ومساعدة الجسم على اعادة بناء الخلايا.

لتجب تلوث الطعام يجب طهي اللحوم والبيض جيدا, و تجنب أكل الأسماك الغير مطبوخة كالسوشي, وتجنب أكل الجبن المتعفن كالروكفور, وتجنب أكل أي شيء بعد تاريخ الصلاحية.

أكل 5 أو 6 وجبات صغيرة أفضل من 3 وجبات كبيرة. وممكن أن يكون دائما مع المريض وجبات “سناكس” كالبسكوت المملح, التوست, الزبادي, الشوربة المخفوقة.

ينصح للمريض أن تأكل عندما يمكنها وشرب السوائل. التغذية بعد الانتهاء من العلاج الكيماوي تختلف من حالة الى الأخرى على حسب التفاصيل المحددة للسرطان. مثلا النساء الذين يعانون من سرطان الهرمون الايجابي للثدي يفضل التقليل من تناول منتجات الألبان لما تحتويه من مادة الكاسين (casein).

كيفتؤثراليوغاعلىالمرأةالمصابةبسرطانالثديبشكلخاص؟وهلهناكرياضاتينصحللمرأةأنتمارسها؟

Image Source: FYI Living

عند اخبار المريض بأنه مريض للسرطان فإن معدلات القلق تزداد بشكل حاد لدي المريض ولكن ممارسة اليوجا لفترات طويلة تساعد على زيادة القدرة على التكيف والتأقلم
واحدة من أهم فوائد اليوجا للسرطان هي مساعدة مريض السرطان على التنفس بشكل طبيعي مما يساعده على التحكم في القلق وأي مشاعر سلبية

فوائد اليوجا لمرضى السرطان:
(1) مكافحة الآثار الجانبية للعلاج:

قالت دراسة إن النساء اللائي تلقين دروساً في اليوجا أثناء علاجهن من سرطان الثدي وضح تحسن مجهودهن البدني، إضافة إلى شعورهن بتحسن صحتهن. واختيرت بشكل عشوائي 62 امرأة كان يتم علاجهن بالإشعاع من مرض سرطان الثدي من أجل حضور دروس في اليوجا مرتين في الأسبوع أو تم وضعهن في قائمة الانتظار لبدء دروس اليوجا بعد علاجهن. وأكملن جميعاً استطلاعات بشأن قياسات مختلفة لنوعية الحياة.
وجدت إن النساء اللائي تدربن على اليوجا تحدثن عن تحسن أدائهن البدني مثل القدرة على المشي مسافة ميل وصعود الدرج وغير ذلك. وإن هؤلاء النساء شعرن بتحسن صحتهن العامة وقلت شكواهن من الإجهاد ومشكلات النوم.

(2) الحد من الإجهاد:
أكدت دراسة نُشرت في عام 2009 أيضاً أن مرضى سرطان الثدي الذين يمارسون اليوجا قد يكونون أقل إجهاداً من غيرهم

(3) تحسين نمط الحياة:
في دراسة رائدة نُشرت عام 2006، وجد الباحثون أن ممارسة سبعة أسابيع من اليوجا قد تعمل على تحسين حياة مرضى السرطان كما أنها تعمل على التأثير على سلوك المريض إيجابياً من الناحية العاطفية والبدنية.

ممارسة الرياضة أيا كانت مهمة للوقاية من السرطان وأيضا أثناء العلاج فمثلا المشي 20 دقيقة يوميا يكفي.

نتمنى النشاط الدائم اللتي توحّدنا جميعاً لمكافحة هذا المرض اللذي نحاربه معاً ونأمل أن نجد له علاجاّ يقضي عليه قريباً

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Interview conducted by Joanna-Maria Ghawi

Lara’s Story

We had a chance to meet Lara Safar at the Bras for a Cause ME  fashion show in Dubai where she openly shared her inspirational story of overcoming the disease to all our guests, starting with the following simple yet very powerful introduction:

Two years ago, this is probably how I would have introduced myself: “Hi everyone, my name is Lara. I’m Lebanese. I’m 25-years-old and I work in advertising”. Today I say: “Hi everyone, my name is Lara. I’m a twenty-seven year-old breast cancer survivor.”

“Twenty-seven-year-old” and “survivor” in one sentence is not something you hear every day, but Lara has actively proven (and continues to do so) the importance of early detection – no matter how old you are. We took a few minutes to get to know this fascinating young woman a little bit better to spread her important message to all women across the Middle East:

1. How did you find out that you had breast cancer? 

I sensed a lump in one of my breasts but kind of ignored it at the beginning as I didn’t think it was anything abnormal. One day I could sense it, the next day I couldn’t. I thought it was in my head and that I was being paranoid until one day at the beach when a friend of mine felt it and encouraged me to get a doctor’s appointment (which I did). After that, I did some tests, including an ecography and a mammography before the doctor announced the news to me.

2. What was your first thought upon hearing the diagnosis and what was treatment like? 

I was shocked when I first found out because I was not expecting it. Given that I was only 25 years old at the time and that I didn’t have any family history, it came as a surprise for me.

My first reaction was that this is not possible; I didn’t believe it.

I thought the doctor was wrong until I did more tests and got checked by other doctors who also confirmed that I had attained stage 2 breast cancer.

The treatment varies case by case. Given my age and the stage of my cancer, I had to undergo chemotherapy for almost 1 year and 3 months. It was 1 session every 3 weeks. I also did a surgery whereby the tumor was removed from my breast, followed by daily radiotherapy treatment for almost 5 weeks.

3. Is breast cancer genetic in your family? If not, how were doctors able to explain why you were diagnosed with it at such a young age?  

No one from my family had been attained by breast cancer and it’s still a question mark as to how I was diagnosed with it at such a young age. No science so far has been able to determine the reasons behind breast cancer in general. It is said that the probability of breast cancer increases with age and if there’s a family history, but people tend to think that they can only be attained by it for those reasons – which is a total misconception. My case is the proof of that. It’s very important that people correct their conception with regards to this matter.

Stages of Recovery: Before, During and After (left-to-right) Photos courtesy of Lara

4. What helped you recover during and after treatment? 

Of course, what helped me was the support of my family, in spite of this being very hard on them. They never showed me that they were in pain and always kept a hopeful attitude with a smile on their faces. My friends were also always there for me and I was constantly surrounded by the people I love. Most and foremost, having an optimistic spirit was the key to surviving this episode.

5. Were you able to meet other survivors your age and how important is the support of others who’ve gone through the same thing? 

I haven’t met many people who were attained by breast cancer at quite the young age like I have – only 1 as a matter of fact and I met her at the hospital. She had discovered it after I had already started my treatment so my case was more advanced than hers at the time we met. She was still at the beginning of her treatment so I found myself helping her by telling her what to expect and the different stages she’d have to go through.

6. Did you wear a wig during treatment, and if so, why did you chose to do so? If not, what helped you to make such a bold decision? 

Before I started chemotherapy I had very long hair, which I loved. As soon as my hair started to fall, I went to a hair salon specialized in making wigs from your own hair. They cut my hair and used it to make the wig, but I never wore it. I felt as if I would be lying to myself as well as to others. It wasn’t right and it didn’t look nice or natural to me. So instead I resorted to wearing scarves which felt much more comfortable. I started matching them with my outfits and would constantly received compliments on them.

Given that I never wore my wig, my friends and family helped themselves to it instead. It was very funny seeing them in a new hairstyle – especially the boys!

Lara’s fabulous scarf style during treatment. Photos courtesy of Lara

7. How has breast cancer changed your outlook on life? 

Many people say that after rough experiences, their perception of life changes. To be very honest with you, that has not been the case with me. Like I mentioned at the Bras for a Cause event, I’m still the same person. I still like the same things and still have the same friends. Nothing has changed really except that maybe now I try to do more of the things I like to do (like eating out, traveling, etc…) and avoid doing the things that I don’t like doing (like exercising!). But that’s not because I think that life is too short; far from that! Rather it’s because I now feel that there’s no point in doing things that don’t matter to you.

8. What tips or advice would you like to give for other Middle Eastern breast cancer patients about to undergo the same thing? 

That there is no point in being sad or asking questions like “why me?” as this will not make the cancer go away. My advice would be to look at the bright side and look at all the good things that will come out of this experience as they’re countless.

Another important thing to bear in mind is to find the best doctors as they will give you the confidence you need and will provide you with the best treatment possible to increase your chances of surviving.

Lastly, dont spend too much time on the internet looking for answers. Most of the times they’re exaggerated and incorrect. Ask questions to the right people (i.e. doctors).

9. You’ve been very open about your experience, which isn’t very common in the region. What boosted you to do so and how has the public responded to your story? Do you find talking about your experience difficult? 

When I survived, I took a pledge to start raising awareness about early detection because I want other women to be able to survive this like I did – and early detection is key for that. More so, I believe there is no shame in being  a cancer survivor. On the contrary; after this experience, people have so much more admiration, respect and love towards me. So why to not talk about it, especially when it can help others and make a difference?

Lara sharing her story at the Bras for a Cause fashion show in Dubai (October 2011)

The public has been quite responsive to my story. I’ve done a lot of media interviews and have spoken at a couple of events. Following those experiences, I now get stopped by random people who applaud my courage and thank me for opening their eyes by sharing my story. I really hope that my message has resonated with others and that women will do regular check-ups religiously!

10. What did you think of the Bras for a Cause fashion show event [that you were also a guest speaker at]? What kind of campaigns would you like to see more of in the region? 

This is a brilliant event because although the core of it is breast cancer awareness, it was surrounded by other fun activities which encouraged people to attend and take part. If the event had been more focussed towards the cause and the medical side of it, then it probably wouldn’t have captured as much attention.

I really hope that more campaigns will take place in the region, and not just in October (breast cancer awareness month) but rather all year long.

Safe & Sound‘s activities, such as their walk-a-thon, annual survivor fashion show, book sale, and, most importantly, the 5,000 free mammography vouchers they give away to women who can’t afford to get checked are also good examples.

Lara celebrates reaching the “Finish Line” at the end of her treatment. Photo courtesy of Lara

Thank you Lara for taking the time to share your story with us. You’re a true inspiration and we applaud your commitment to spreading your message of breast cancer awareness. We wish you the best of luck in all you do!

UPDATE: Read the follow-up interview with Lara we conducted two years after this post here.

Limited Edition Collection hits Stores!

We’re excited to announce that the Bras for a Cause Middle East  “Look Good, Feel Good” Collection has been distributed to different stores across the Middle East. The exciting Collection of Limited Edition Bras and T-Shirts will be available at the following fabulous department stores and high-end boutiques:

  • Galeries Lafayette (Dubai)
  • K-Lynn Lingerie (Lebanon, Kuwait and Dubai)
  • Pink Dust (Amman, Jordan)
  • Amuse Concept Store (Cairo, Egypt)
  • Cream (Beirut and Jeddah, KSA)
  • AuraB.com (Online Boutique)
  • Maison Bo-m (Riyadh, KSA)

We had a chance to take a few photos of the first shops to display the pieces – more coming soon!

** Be sure to grab your favorites soon as quantities are limited and will only be on sale for a short period **