The city is going all out to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Time Out Bahrain staff
OK, so as the founder of Think Pink Bahrain Jules Sprakel says, ‘breast cancer is not just for October’, but this is the month when we don our pink ribbons in support of those fighting the disease and there’s lots going on across the island to get involved in.
Now in its eighth year, Jules started Think Pink Bahrain almost by accident. Having discovered a lump and been successfully treated for breast cancer at the age of just 23, she wanted to give something back. What was supposed to be a one-off event at Camelot, mostly for family and friends of Jules and her co-founders, raised BD10,500, BD5,000 of it from an anonymous donor. Before she knew it, the charity was born with people asking ‘what’s next?’.
Eight years later and Think Pink Bahrain has raised more than BD400,000 to pay for an MRI scanner which will be installed at Salmaniya Hospital and will be available free of charge for all.
Rule changes governing the donation of machinery mean the scanner has not been fitted as yet but the charity is working closely with the ministry to get things moving.
Hence, though there are many other events, the usual Think Pink gala night has been postponed with Jules explaining: “I can’t in good conscience ask people to hand over money for the MRI appeal until I know when it will be up and running, it would be great if we could have the gala in the new year to celebrate the installation of the scanner.”
However, over the years, Think Pinkers have also raised upwards of BD55,000 for the education fund on which this year’s efforts will be concentrated.
“We believe that education at grass roots level is really important,” says Jules. “We need to get the message out there that ‘your life is in your hands and you’re responsible for your own health’. The bottom line is that you can have all the great equipment in the world but if people aren’t aware about their own health, checking themselves and taking action, the equipment is no help.”
The charity has sponsored two nurses from the Salmaniya Medical Complex to complete their masters in nursing in breast cancer with a third due to graduate in 2013.
It has also sent six healthcare professionals from Salmaniya and the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital to the Foeldi Clinic in Germany where they have certified in working with lymphoedema – the treatment of breast cancer can often leave patients with swelling in the limbs and joints and they have learned how to deal with this with special bandaging and massage.
Two doctors have been supported to attend overseas conferences to present their research.
And, thanks to a donation from Bahrain Round Table, the charity has been able to buy 1,500 pink plexus breast self examination gloves – rubber gloves with a gel interior which makes the wearer’s hands particularly sensitive to abnormalities in the breast tissue.
Of these, 500 gloves will go to the American Mission Hospital (AMH) which is launching a major awareness campaign this month to screen and follow-up around 1,000 women.
This will mean free clinical exams, with ultrasounds and mammograms, where any anomaly is detected, and free treatment if needed.
Though the campaign is being run by AMH it does have the full support of Think Pink Bahrain with Jules saying: “I endorse what the AMH is doing 150 per cent. Getting the resources out there, particularly to less affluent women, is really essential.”
There are various clinics where women – and men, don’t forget breast cancer can also affect male breast tissue – can go for free screening including a weekly breast assessment clinic at the Salmaniya Medical Complex run by a team of specialist doctors and free screening at Hamad Kanoo Medical Centre (Isa Town), the National Bank of Bahrain Medical Center (Arad), Naim Medical Centre (Manama), Al Aali Medical Centre (Al Aali) and Mohamad Jassim Kanoo Medical Centre (Hamad Town).
The service is available to citizens and residents over 40 with conditions such as not having had breast surgery in the last year. For more information see www.thinkpinkbahrain.com or Bahrain Cancer Society on www.bahraincancer.com.
The American Mission Hospital also runs a Well Woman Clinic (17 248 142) and a breast clinic (17 253 477 ex351) and King Hamad Hospital has a breast clinic from 1am-1pm on Thursdays.
For women who find a lump, it’s important to remember that breast cancer is definitely not a death sentence. Fewer than five per cent of breast lumps turn out to be malignant and the earlier the disease is discovered, the greater the chances of successful treatment.
What women should be looking for is a lump in the breast or armpit or a lumpy area or unusual thickening which is not related to the monthly period. Also check for changes in size or shape of one breast, dimpling or puckering of the skin, swelling, redness, a rash, pain or blood stained discharge from the nipple.
If you discover any of the above, the first step is a clinical examination. Jules emphasises: “Don’t be swayed by what anyone else tells you, never mind if your mum, your friends or your aunt says it’s OK and probably nothing. The only person who can tell you about your lump is the doctor or radiographer who examines you. If you find a lump, don’t put it off, get it checked out straight away. “It probably won’t be anything to worry about but if it is, there’s plenty of support out there.” To find out more checkout www.thinkpinkbahrain.com.
Think Pink events
Oct 3,4,& 5 Spinning Open to all spinning classes, various timings at Bodyline Fitness. Minimum donation BD10. Contact (17 793 932).
Oct 5 Pink HOG’s Ride Harley Davidson Owners Group (HOG’s) awareness ride. Contact Maria Hawkyard (39 566 573).
Oct 7 Men’s Night Golf At the Royal Golf Club, Riffa, the men’s nine-hole tournament will be played under floodlights on the back nine holes of the club’s Montgomerie championship course. Contact (17 750 777) for registration.
Oct 10 Ladies’ Golf Day Experienced lady golfers compete in an 18-hole Texas Scramble competition on the Montgomerie championship course, at the Royal Golf Club, teeing off with an 8am shotgun start. Ladies with higher handicaps have the option to play a nine-hole scramble at 9.30am on the club’s Wee Monty par three course. Organisers aim to raise around BD10,000 this year from both men’s and women’s events. Contact (17 750 777) for registration.
Oct 11 World Beat Fitness Open Day Various activities throughout the day. Contact the centre on (17 612 576).
Oct 13-Nove 8 Art exhibition Award-winning artist Marwa Rashid Al Khalifa will be exhibiting a collection of new paintings at World Beat Café with the theme ‘Aspects of a Woman’ which will open at World Beat Fitness Centre from 4-6pm. Meet the artist who will be donating a percentage of sales to Think Pink. Call (17 612 576) for more information.
Oct 13 Kick Up You Heels Bahrain City Centre (BCC) mall walk. For registration contact customer service desks or online at www.bahraincitycentre.com/en.
Oct 15 JJ’s Karaoke Night Singing for Think Pink. Call 39 329 083.
Oct 18 International Costume Parade Special event at the Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel. Cost is BD15 with proceeds going to the American Mission Hospital Breast Cancer Fund. Tickets from Anne on (17 253 447 ex410 or 17 248 136) or through the hotel, call Sherryl (39 945 208).
Oct 20 Party in Pink Three hour zumba/spinning marathon from 10am-1pm. Dessange 17 713 999.
Oct 21 Café Ceramique Open day from 11am. Call 17 583 500.
Oct 23 Pink Escape Evening event at Camelot. Call Anna 39 977 540.
Oct 27 Pick a Heart Think Pink Party Studio Ceramics is holding a party at which guests can paint a heart brooch, pendant, fridge magnet, coaster etc. There’ll be pink cotton candy, lots of activities and snacks.. Entry is BD5 with proceeds going to Think Pink.
Also throughout October they’ll be donating a portion of takings on all heart-shaped bisques painted to Think Pink. Call 17 599 026.
Nov 3 Pink Walkathon At Dohart Arad in support of American Mission Hospital (AMH) Contact Bahnaz on (39 688 619).
For the fourth year Think Pink Bahrain is collaborating with Al Zain Jewellery to produce the annual ‘Hope’ bracelet.
The piece features a unique charm design – each year has been different and the plan is that next year’s bracelet will feature charms for the first five years.
The bracelets are available at Al Zain stores priced BD30 with all proceeds going to the charity.
And for the first time this year Think Pink is also working with Annada the company which transfers the works of Bahraini artists onto stunning silk scarves.
The Think Pink scarf is called Birds of a Feather by Abbas Al Mosawi and Annada boss Nada Alawi explained: “It’s about birds of a feather flocking together showing that women united are strong and we must support each other.” The limited edition scarves are available online at www.annadaonline.com priced BD60 with 25 per cent of proceeds going to Think Pink.