Pink Caravan concludes ride in Abu Dhabi and screens more than 10,000 people in 10 days

As part of the yearly ride, women above 40 received free mammograms too

Not even her ongoing treatment could stop breast cancer fighter, Mira Ahli, from riding a horse across Abu Dhabi to raise awareness about the disease.

The 30-year-old Emirati was one of 150 riders who took part in the 10-day Pink Caravan campaign, which concluded in the capital on Friday.

The yearly drive, which is now in its tenth edition, organised free mobile clinics and breast screenings across all seven Emirates to drum home the importance of early detection.

More than 350 doctors volunteered at more than 70 fixed and mobile clinics during the 150km journey. And Ms Ahli said she was proud to be a part of the awareness drive.

"I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 and I'm still continuing treatment, but the hard part is over,” she said.

“I wanted to convey my story to everyone during the ride so I could be a support for those who have a fear of being diagnosed.

"The most important thing is for people to get tested if they [have concerns].

“Immediately get tested, don't put it off and don't think it is just going to go away.”

I wanted to convey my story to everyone during the ride so I could be a support for those who have a fear of being diagnosed

During the 10-day campaign, 11,077 free screenings were carried out across the UAE, bypassing the campaign’s original goal of 10,000. Of those tested, over 25 per cent were men.

Dr Mohammed Omar Sadek, a volunteer at the clinic in Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque complex, said the mobile clinics provided an opportunity for men and women to learn how to perform important self-examinations.

For women above 40, they were also given free mammograms, which are recommended to be done once every two years and cost about Dh1,000 in most hospitals.

"None of the men [we screened] had a breast exam before," said Dr Sadek.

Pink Caravan riders at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

With 64,012 free medical screenings, support of 795 medical clinics, and over 300,000 volunteering hours since its inception in 2011, Pink Caravan — an initiative dedicated to raising awareness for early detection of cancer, rides resolutely into its 10th year, combining its educational messaging with action in the form of free health screen checks for both women and men.

(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)


"They were shocked that males could get breast cancer.”

On Thursday, the ride stopped by the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre and set up a mobile clinic with equal examination space set aside for men and women. Dr Sadek said even though male breast cancer diagnoses were rare, they were often far more dangerous if detected in the late stages.

“Breast cancer in males is more fatal than in females because males don't have much tissue and fat in the breast," he said..

"The cancer is closer to the internal organs including the lungs and heart, so it can spread fast."

Rawand Almousily, a member of the medical committee, said financial support would be offered to those who received a positive diagnosis during the Pink Caravan.

Last year, 12 cases of breast cancer were discovered out of almost 7,000 screenings carried out during the campaign.

According to the WHO, breast cancer was the most common cancer in the UAE in 2018, with the 1,054 cases accounting for 22 per cent of all UAE cancer diagnoses.

Doctors said the risk of developing breast cancer is increased by smoking, obesity and family history, however, with early detection, 99 per cent of patients would survive at least five years.