By Shakira Thebus
The month of October is globally recognized and dedicated to creating awareness on breast cancer, and as part of VOC’s initiative to amplify the awareness, it hosts its Pink Hijab Day annually. Every year, the event saw hundreds of mostly women, gather at the much loved Masjidul Quds in Gatesville, Cape town. This year, keeping with the same ethos and objectives, a venue change was introduced in order to accommodate many more attendees. Different shades of bright pink, florals and flowy attire could be seen as attendees came dressed for the occasion held at Moerat’s Events, Cape town in Boom road Schaapkraal.
VOC broadcasted live from the event with Aunty Ayesha Laatoe and Dr Muhammad Sheik from the 10am express show. VOC presenter Tasleema Allie delivered a touching poem written by Sheikh Ismail Londt on cancer entitled, ‘Hope Anchors the Soul’.
A dialogue session with panellists included oncologist Dr Elizabeth Margaret Murray, Breast Clinic’s sister Galiema Fish, Islamic Medical Associations’ Ferhard Yasin and Cansa’s Nasiega Dada spoke openly during the interactive session allowing attendees to directly address the panelists for Q&A. Some of the points covered were influences of cancer growth and development, demystifying breast cancer and busting myths surrounding breast cancer as well as emphasizing the importance of breast screenings and at home breast examinations.
Confidential, free, breast screenings were made available to attendees in a safe space, allowing for support and guidance for those who might be fearful of taking that daunting step. Nurses were on hand to guide the attendees on how to conduct at home breasts exams as well.
Guest speaker Gadija Sait gave an energetic talk encouraging women to be honest and create a sense of self love within themselves through honesty and straight talk.
Delectable sweet pink treats and drinks were on sale, with a first of its kind pink koesisters, falooda, cupcakes, tarts, pastries and so much more.
“There’s a lot of people that are not well educated regarding the different types of cancers and I think this initiative is very smart,” says Rushkah Fredericks, a cancer survivor.
“I saw a lot of ladies here attending that actually don’t have a clue on how to examine the breasts, and the nurses in the cubicles are very helpful,” added Fredericks.
“It doesn’t matter your age, but it highlights how important it is that we take care of ourselves, and be aware of breast cancer, and how to examine ourselves,” added Fayroez Behaardien.
“I have an experience with my mother-in law who was diagnosed almost three years ago with breast cancer and once it was diagnosed, we acted really quickly. She, unfortunately, had to have a single mastectomy, but Alhamdulillah, with a positive attitude and following the doctor’s instructions, today she is cancer-free.”
“If you just sort of leave it and say maybe it will go away, it won’t, it will actually just get worst and the sooner you act, the better for you,” said Behaardien.
Some attendees expressed that it was a highly emotional experience as many had been either directly or indirectly affected by breast cancer.
VOC programme manager Rashieda Davids said she was struck by how PHD is embraced with great enthusiasm by those who turned up for the event and who came out in full support decked out in their pink scarves and outfits.
“In spite of the seriousness of the cause, one could feel the positive energy around us. It has always been important to us to present an event that motivates and encourages people to not lose hope, to draw from their faith, to make them laugh – and cry even – but to ultimately leave them with the message that there is support available to them, that breast cancer is not a death sentence and that fear should never hold them back,” she emphasized.
The biggest change to this year’s programme was the introduction of the very first breast cancer dialogue.
“The event was also open to both males and females as we felt it important to acknowledge that breast cancer impacts not only on the life of the female in the family, but also that of the husbands, sons, fathers and brothers. We hope to build on that aspect next year InshaAllah. We also just wanted to have more fun with the audience so there was more interaction, games and give-aways,” said Davids.
“We are grateful to everyone who assisted in putting PHD together this year, our colleagues who helped on the day, all our sponsors – some who gave more than what we expected or could’ve hoped for, Alhamdulillah. Logistically, the biggest hurdle we had to overcome was a mental one that pertained to a proposed change in venue. Do we risk losing a guaranteed captive audience of between 800 – 900 people which we have become used to over the years in favour of a new, smaller, more remote and largely unfamiliar venue (to us) that may not attract even half that amount of people. Since we could only accommodate about 250 – 300 people we managed to have a full house with an audience that was no less enthusiastic than previous years.”
Davids said the venue also presented VOC with an opportunity to “challenge ourselves” and to really see what the organising team of PHD is capable of.
“We recognise the potential in growing this event into one of great magnitude and we are looking forward to exploring the different ways in which we can achieve that goal, InshaAllah.”