Pink Caravan has become something of a posterchild for breast cancer awareness campaigns in the UAE. Launched in 2011 by Friends of Cancer Patients, a UAE-based charitable society, it’s had a major impact on the way breast cancer is viewed in the emirates.
The Pink Caravan ride sees more than 100 riders (dressed in pink) embark on a horseback journey through all seven emirates, raising awareness and encouraging women and men to perform self-examinations, and go for regular medical check-ups. Along the route, mobile clinics offering free screenings are set up.
Since it started, the initiative and its clinics have travelled more than 1,000km, made more than 250 clinic stops, and screened 21,795 people – 5,450 of whom were men. The goal has been to undermine the stigma surrounding cancer in the country, and get people – women in particular – discussing the disease with their families, and attending regular check-ups.
How to check yourself
Every woman should be doing a monthly self-examination, between the sixth and tenth days of your menstrual cycle. Pink Caravan take us through the four steps. Before you get started, pick one motion, circular, up and down, or wedge, that you will use every time you conduct your self-breast check. This makes it easier for you to detect any changes in your breast.
Step one: lying down
1 Place a pillow under your right shoulder.
2 Place your right hand behind your head.
3 Use the inner pads of the three middle fingers of your left hand.
4 Feel for any changes in your breast, above and below your collarbone and your armpit area (like a lump or a hard node or skin thickening).
5 Now repeat the same procedure for the left breast.
Step two: stand upright in front of a mirror
1 Place your right hand behind your head.
2 Use the three middle fingers of your left hand while feeling your right breast.
3 Inspect all the areas of your breast, chest and collarbone just like you did when lying down.
4 Repeat the same procedure for the left breast using your right hand.
Step three: stand upright in front of a mirror
1 Arms held over your head
2 Check your breast for any change in size, shape and colour.
Step four: stand upright in front of a mirror
1 Arms pressed against the hips and bending forward.
2 Check your breasts for puckering, dimpling, rash, nipple discharge, or retraction or any other change that does not look or feel normal.
What to look for:
1 A lump, hard knot, or thickening.
2 Swelling, warmth, redness, or darkening.
3 Change in the size or shape of nipple or the breast.
4 Dimpling or puckering of the skin.
5 Itchy, scaly sore, or rash on the nipple.
6 Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast.
7 Nipple discharge (especially bloody) that starts suddenly.
8 New pain in one spot that does not go away.
9 Pain or tenderness not associated with menstrual cycle.