IMASA Cape Town Breast Cancer Awareness & Screening Programme

All praise and thanks to the Almighty, and peace and blessings on our beloved prophet Mohammed (SAW) VOC, in celebration of Pink Hijab Day, hosted a “Breast Cancer Awareness and Screening programme” at Masqidul Quds on 27th October 2015.

The IMA [Cape Town Branch] was privileged to collaborate in presenting a short medical talk and providing assistance with the breast screening examinations. Despite the sweltering 33 degree heat, about 1000 women attended the event dressed in their beautiful pink hijaabs, Alhamdullilah.

Sheikh A. Alexander started the proceedings with a short thikr, which heightened the spiritual ambience, infusing the gathering with love, friendship and compassion towards each another. Speakers (especially the survivors) were truly inspiring! Some of the highlights were: Humairah Jassat, the founder of pink hijaab day, was a young, dynamic, enthusiastic speaker and proponent of breast cancer awareness.

The young survivor, Kauthar Roomaney, gave an insight into her experience with thyroid cancer at the age of 18. Such courage, strength, resilience and deep imaan, left the audience speechless and emotional. She received a deserved standing ovation!

The IMA presented a short talk about it’s national and local projects. The risk factors for and early warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer were explained to the audience. Pink Drive was also present at the event. They presented a talk about the services they provide to the underprivileged communities. They too assisted with the breast screening examinations.

The diagnosis of breast cancer is fraught with much physical, emotional and psychological turmoil. Treatment also impacts on a women’s sexuality and self-image. The aim of the breast cancer awareness programme is to empower women, by creating an awareness of the importance of the early detection of breast cancer. The smaller the size of the tumour at diagnosis, the better the chances of survival and resultant quality of life.

About 40% of women will discover a breast lump at some point in their lives. Advise is: DON’T PANIC! However, consult your doctor immediately. If the lump is confirmed, further tests will be done to determine the nature of the lump. FORTUNATELY, 80% of breast lumps are not cancerous!!

South Africa does not have a breast screening protocol instituted. These are the recommendations: Have yearly check-ups by your GP or other health practitioner. 2) Perform monthly breast self examinations 3) Have your routine mammograms done

Upon enquiry from the audience, it was noted that despite knowing the importance of breast self examinations, very few women were actually performing it regularly! This indicates a dire need for more educational programmes and evaluation of the resistance to self- examination.

Mammograms are recommended: Every 2yrs for women over 40yrs Every year for women over 50yrs. Those with a positive family history, start 10 yrs prior to the relative’s diagnosis.

The IMA team of 10 volunteers, screened 108 women. A further 70, were screened by Pink Drive. Alhamdullilah women arrived early and patiently awaited their turn. Of the patients screened by the IMA, abnormalities were detected in 7 patients. They were immediately referred to the breast clinic at GSH, or their private doctors.

For some women, shockingly, this was the very first time they had a breast screening examination!!! This is partly due to failure of the Primary Health Care System, to initiate and encourage routine breast examinations as part of the holistic general care of patients. This awareness programme was truly commendable as a preventative health care initiative, as it targeted more than 1000 women! With the recording by ITV, we endeavour to reach and educate many more!

We’re very grateful to the VOC for allowing us this opportunity, and endeavour to host many more such programmes on a regular basis insha Allah

We make duaa that it benefitted and empowered many women insha Allah.

A special thanks to Aunty Rhoda of Elegant Muslimah, who so graciously donated the beautiful abayas and scarves to the IMA volunteers.

We are grateful to all our medical volunteers who sacrificed their time. May the Almighty allow us to always remain in servitude and gratitude to HIM Insha Allah.

AUTHOR: Dr Nafisa Khan [GP, Private Practice Hanover Park Cape Town]

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