x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Facebook campaign for cancer awareness attracts 1,500 fans

A mother and daughter from the UAE teamed up to create a breast cancer awareness campaign.

Premi Mathews, creator of the Facebook group to encourage students to inform their mothers on  breast cancer called
Premi Mathews, creator of the Facebook group to encourage students to inform their mothers on breast cancer called "Protect your Mom" , speaks about the Facebook site with students at the American College in Dubai on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Charles Crowell for The National

DUBAI // A Facebook campaign that encourages daughters to "pester" their mothers about the dangers of cancer has attracted 1,500 fans.

Premi Mathews, who works in the marketing school at American College of Dubai (ACD), joined forces with her daughter Angela Mathews, 20, to create the "Protect your Mom" campaign.

"Mothers are usually busy and don't get the time to look after themselves, so that's where students come in," said Mrs Mathews. "Students pester their mothers for everything, so why not use this for the purpose of breast cancer?"

Mrs Mathews encourages marketing and communications students to use their skills to create posters and videos, which are uploaded to the Facebook page.

Mrs Mathews's daughter, Angela, said they were inspired to take action when they heard a close family memberwas told she had Stage-2 breast cancer.

"When my relative was diagnosed with cancer, it caught me completely off guard," said the engineering student who studies in India, but visits Dubai every few months.

"I've been a part of pink walkathons in school, and even bought a crystal-studded pink ribbon, but I never registered that it could happen to someone I know. It was just something pretty I bought and ignored," she said.

In March, Mrs Mathews held an event at Dubai Festival City in collaboration with the Global Youth Empowerment Movement.

Raheel Wahdeem, 22, is a student at ACD who helped organise the event. "I thought because I am doing this campaign, I first have to start from my home and family, so I asked my mother to do the mammogram," he said.

Sultana Yasmeen, 20, from Bangladesh, said the campaign was informative.

"It was quite interesting for me as I found some guys telling us about male patients in their families who have breast cancer," said Ms Yasmeen, who designed pamphlets and wrist bands for the event in March.

"So we got to know that not only women who get it, but also men."

Dr Moza Al Hattawi, a surgeon at Dubai Hospital, said she liked the idea of a Facebook campaign. "All kinds of awareness campaigns are useful," she said.

Dr Al Hattawi said women over 40 should go for an annual mammogram, and women below the age of 40 should have an annual ultra sound.

"It's important that women are aware of how to self-examine and ask for a specialist's help to show them the proper way of doing so," she said.

Mrs Mathews said self-examinations can make the difference. "They cost nothing. If you spend five minutes making your mum do the self-exam, it could save a life," she said.

"People don't take it seriously, no one takes it seriously."

aalhaddad@thenational.ae