Pink Day in Dubai school raises awareness on breast cancer

A teacher diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39 says greater awareness of the disease is needed in the UAE.

It’s Pink Day! Students at Jumeriah Primary School went to school wearing pink onOct2 toraise awareness about breast cancer. Courtesy- Jumeriah Primary School
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DUBAI // For pupils and teachers at Gems Jumeirah Primary School, the battle against breast cancer, and the lack of knowledge about it, has become a personal campaign.

Lisa Gwillian, a Grade 4 teacher at the school, was among the 1,400 educators and students who took part in the school’s Pink Day to raise awareness of the disease this week.

Mrs Gwillian was 39 when her breast cancer was diagnosed last year.

“You always think it happens at a later age,” she said. “People think it’s an older person’s illness and disease but it’s getting younger, and it’s frightening how young it’s become.

“Woman from the age of 25 should be able to get a mammogram and it shouldn’t cost that much.”

The school has organised activities to raise awareness of breast cancer throughout this month.

“Tuesday was the launch of the month but we have more events planned over the next few weeks,” said Lamya Gabr, the school’s parent relations executive.

"We'll talk to parents about breast cancer, have a pink bake sale for mums to bake cupcakes and cookies to sell in the school for charity, and donate hair from students, teachers and parents for our second Locks of Love."

Locks of Love is a US charity that donates hair to make wigs for children who have lost theirs through treatment for cancer or other illnesses.

The school has also planned a charity swim.

“We arranged a Pink is Punk day on Tuesday because we wanted to get the boys involved,” said Mrs Gwillian.

During last year's campaign, the school found there was a lack of support for women who had lost their hair.

“We are collecting scarves from teachers, parents and children throughout the month,” Mrs Gwillian said. “We’ve received over 100 scarves so far and it’s only the second day.

“At the end of the month we will give them to Breast Cancer Arabia, who will provide them to women who are diagnosed.

“We want to get the focus out there about how important self-check is and not doing the ‘head in the sand’ approach.”