Middle East

Heal from within: Saudi wellness coaches help people get back on track

JEDDAH: Thirty female cyclists roamed the streets of Jeddah dressed in pink to raise awareness on breast cancer and the importance of understanding the symptoms and treatment, breaking the stigma, and supporting survivors.

The initiative, organized by Al-Morjan group in cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Health and Brave Cyclist club, is among many other awareness campaigns taking place around the Kingdom during October, which marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The most common cancers in the Kingdom are breast, colorectal, prostate and brain cancer. According to a World Health Organization 2018 report, the incidence of breast cancer among females in Saudi Arabia was nearly 30 percent. The MOH stated that it is more common among women aged 40 or older.

Over 50 percent of breast cancer cases in the Kingdom are detected late, compared to 20 percent in advanced countries.

Participants donning pink drew the attention of passersby on Jeddah’s waterfront as they rode the 7.5 km length of the riding lane. 

“Breast cancer awareness is important. It continues to be one of the largest killers among women in our local community. So, it’s important to support our women here to make sure they get an early checkup. It is an initiative to target our women employees and our community,” said Elham Bafarat, Al-Murjan group’s public relations manager.

She noted that initiatives like this are essential for raising community awareness about the need for early screening.

“Many of the cyclists have someone close to them who has been affected directly or indirectly by cancer.

The event is meant for all ages and fitness levels. It encourages cyclists to achieve their ambition whether it is simply completing the required distance or setting a personal best,” she added.

“The sooner that its caught, the easier and less expensive it is to treat,” said Leena Al-Maeena, the executive partner of Jeddah United. “This is why we are encouraging women to self-test at least once a month, by riding through our local communities, we can spread the word,” she said.

The team has a mix of familiar faces and new riders, including Samar Rahbini, the famous cyclist who runs the Brave Cyclist club, the first women’s cycling club established in Saudi Arabia. 

Hana Al-Otaibi and Samar Rahbini, two riders participating in the event, joined the others to ensure that they, too, make a mark in raising community awareness.

“It’s a great opportunity for us riders to help a fantastic cause like breast cancer care, raising awareness around an issue that affects so many people and their families across the Kingdom. We’re delighted to be part of this initiative and also be able to meet the supporters of the event to motivate others to get involved in this special ride,” said Al-Otaibi.

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“The goal of this breast cancer awareness ride is including both the young and old from various communities in the effort to raise awareness of the importance of breast health in a fun, supportive environment,” Rahbini added.

Dania Al-Maeena, CEO at AlOula nonprofit organization, joined the ladies in pink, saying: “It’s very important that we get together and bring awareness in October.”

For many of those participating, the event was much more than just the 7.5 km ride.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Saudi government and private sector will focus on awareness campaigns on early detection and treatment of breast cancer through a series of activities, including educational exhibitions, lectures, drives in the malls, sports activities, and mammogram screenings.


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