Breast Cancer Diagnosis And Awareness All Inside A Pink Colored Bus

 "People used to say everyone knows someone who’s had breast cancer. In the past few weeks, I’ve learned something else: Everyone has someone close to them who has had breast cancer." - Debbie Wasserman Schultz

This is one of the most haunting lines and going by the current scenario pretty accurate too.  May be that's why the month of October is dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness and it is our duty to talk about it and about the people who fought it and are too trying to spread awareness about this deadly disease. According to women.com Breast cancer awareness is all about "Supporting the fighters. Admiring the survivors. Honoring the taken. And never, ever giving up hope."

But before that let me tell you what breast cancer is? Breast cancer is a disease in which certain cells in the breast become abnormal and multiply uncontrollably to form a tumor. The good news is Breast cancer is largely preventable and all it needs is early detection to halt the process and that can only be done by spreading awareness. Though things are changing in the urban cities but the same can't be said about women living in rural areas which are ridden with illiteracy, ignorance, poverty and superstition.

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Meet Shadi Ganz, who is a breast cancer survivor, philanthropist, artist and a cognitive psychotherapist, who is doing her bit to bring about a change.  In 2011 this German National arrived in Bengaluru, India with her husband when his job transferred him here. During one of Shadi’s visits to Chennai, she saw a long queue of women which she mistook it as a voting queue only to learn that the women were waiting to be screened and had to come from rural areas all the way to Chennai for the procedure.

Soon her husband -- after finishing his assignment -- returned back to Germany but Shadi decided to stay and help women understand about the disease.

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She realized due to stigma associated with it along with ignorance, women from rural areas try to ignore it, till it becomes too late. That's when in 2012, Shadi along with fashion designer Michelle Salins and social activist Nalini Nanjundiah came together to start Mammomobile, to reach out to women living in rural India. “We have all either survived cancer ourselves or watched a close relative battle the disease,” said Nanjundiah while talking to Deccan Chronicle. “We fundraise through art and fashion for a cause, because the cost of each MammoMobile is Rs 1 crore, which includes the payment of fully trained nurses, doctors and a radiologist who will travel to the villages,” she explained. “Since the investment in art is growing, we decided to use that as our main medium of fundraising. Also, Shadi is an artist herself,” she added.

Mammo Mobile Screening Bus, is a bright-pink, fully-equipped mobile breast and cervical cancer screening bus, which is the brainchild of the Shadi Ganz Foundation Mammomobile Charitable Trust called Vanakkam Amma. It is a state of the art vehicle equipped with screening apparatus for cancers of the breast, cervix, lung and mouth, with digital mammography, 3D ultrasound screening, PAP smears and basic treatment methods.

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Currently, they have one Mammo Mobile, which has been operational since 2016. In last two years it has toured around 92 villages in Villupurum and Tamil Nadu and conducts around 500 mammograms a month. The first, and only, mammo mobile bus is mostly self-funded, with machineries imported from US. “I wanted digital machinery wherein the results are immediately checked by a team of doctors in the Chennai hospital. But the biggest challenge in that would be the road conditions. Since the roads are so bumpy, it would be difficult to maintain such sensitive machinery. So, I had to opt for analogue machinery, where the results are collected on a CD and sent by courier to The Cancer Institute in Chennai,” said Shadi while talking to Indian Express.

Along with the diagnosis, if the results are positive the foundation also tries to help the patient financially.  “This is also self-funded. I have tried applying for funding, but I either get rejected or I’m made promises that don’t get fulfilled. I am, however, glad that through the awareness programmes we conduct in cities, some women do come ahead and pitch in with resources that can help others get the treatment they need,” she adds.

The philosophy behind this is removing the stigma and fear associated with the big 'C'. It is not as dreary as we feel. Women can still live a full life the only thing that's required is early detection.

Picture Source: DailyHunt; Deccan Chronicle; MammoMobile.org

 





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