It’s the end of October and usually I would be getting ready for some Halloween party. Growing up in the United States, you couldn’t ignore all the commercials for Halloween. It was pure bombardment of all things Halloween. However, living abroad now, it is almost easy to skip the holiday. In Norway, it was difficult to find a pumpkin to carve, let alone a reasonably priced one. The idea of trick or treating was completely foreign then. I think in our 6 years living there, we had maybe 2 trick or treaters come round. In Denmark, they seemed to embrace the holiday a bit more. We even found a pumpkin patch to take our son to. Here in Qatar, I have almost dropped the idea of celebrating Halloween because not sure of what extent I have to go through to find a pumpkin, any decorations and should I bother with trying to organize trick or treating.
Instead, the focus here in Qatar has been all about breast cancer awareness. October worldwide is known as breast cancer awareness month, but I truly believe that Qatar has gone above and beyond to make it be known to all. From pink day at school, to pink mocktail menus, to pink yoga on the beach, to pink afternoon teas, it is hard not ignore pink October! Which is a fantastic promotion to do during the month, more so than promoting Halloween!
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and affects 1 in 8 women. If detected at an early stage, there is a 98% survival rate! That is huge! And that is why it is so important to do monthly self exams and then mammograms or ultrasounds when needed. I just had an ultrasound done myself and it puts the mind at ease for a bit when you don’t find anything and have been checked. It doesn’t take long, and you only owe it to yourself to love your body and maintain it.
The American Women’s Association of Qatar has a super community service program, where they sew breast cancer heart pillows and bags to carry drainage bags for the hospital here. I first learned about the heart pillows in Norway, where the American Women’s Club also sewed heart pillows. It is something so simple that anyone can do to help out.
The AWAQ also hosted a pink October awareness afternoon tea, where we were informed more about the treatment and care here in Qatar. I am pleased to know that within 48 hours of finding something suspicious, one is referred to the specialist. And if needed, treatment will begin no later than 2 weeks. That is superb!
As scary as Halloween can be, cancer is definitely scarier. Please take time to check yourselves, men too since males can also be diagnosed with breast cancer. Remind others to do the same. You may be aware of the pink ribbons, but follow through and check!