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Pinkathon: A run to support breast cancer awareness
Given the major threat from breast cancer, to spread awareness about it, a multi-category running event for women, called 'Pinkathon,' will be organized on April 7 by Maximus Events in 10 cities across India. The run is focused on woman's health and fitness and specifically breast cancer awareness.

Breast cancer is the commonest cancer in Indian women, and cases of this type of cancer are increasing in our country at a rapid pace. Between 1,00,000-1,25,000 new cases of breast cancer are added every year, and cases recorded will double by 2025.

Given the major threat from breast cancer, to spread awareness about it, a multi-category running event for women, called 'Pinkathon,' will be organized on April 7 by Maximus Events in 10 cities across India. The run is focused on woman's health and fitness and specifically breast cancer awareness. The NGO associated with it is 'Woman's Cancer Initiative' and the organizers of the run are Milind Soman, Director & Reema Sanghavi, Managing Director of Maximus MICE & Media Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

The Pinkathon run aims to collect funds to build awareness and treatment of breast cancer. The funds raised by the registration will be given to Woman's Care Initiative. Woman’s Cancer initiative is an organization set up by Devieka Bhojwani  in association with India’s leading cancer hospital, Tata Memorial Hospital. In this exclusive interview with this citizen journalist, Devieka Bhojwani talks about how Pinkathon is creating a buzz, mastectomy blouse and how to cope after a mastectomy.

What's the main objective behind 'Pinkathon run to lead'

Devieka Bhojwani: The main objective of the 'Pinkathon-Run to Lead' run is to create awareness about the causes of breast cancer and the importance of preventing it with a healthy lifestyle. We aim to promote the importance of regular exercise with running as an example, as it increases the body's immunity, which helps fight cancer. All proceeds from the sponsorship and donations received will be used only for the expense incurred in organizing and marketing the event and towards Women's Cancer Initiative-Tata Memorial Hospital's financial support of woman's cancers for those who cannot afford it.

You have done this run earlier at Mumbai, so how was the post and pre-response of the 'Pinkathon' run?

Devieka Bhojwani: We had a tremendous response in Mumbai with over 2000 women participating and are happy with the positive health messages we have spread amongest women in general through the run and media. We created huge media hype through our website and other social networking sites.

Is there any specific reason behind your interest in the issue of breast cancer?

Devieka Bhojwani: We choose breast cancer - as if detected early, it is the most easy to treat. Also, a woman's breasts define her and if breast cancer is detected too late a masectomy (breast removal) may result. Masectomies are emotionally very traumatic and difficult for any woman to live with.

The idea of a mastectomy blouse is a good one. How did the idea originate?

Devieka Bhojwani: A woman's breasts define her body, affect her self-esteem and self confidence and are an integral part of her sexuality and maternal instinct. To lose even one of them is a very traumatic experience. Many women are embarrassed to go out in public after a mastectomy. The stigma associated even with a partial mastectomy is still extremely high in the eyes of the Indian public.

As breast cancer detection, diagnoses, medication and treatment advance with the surge of breast cancer research being conducted around the world, the percentages of mastectomies has fallen as cancers are being detected earlier thanks to breast cancer awareness and free detection camps. And cancers detected early are easy to treat, unlike late stage cancers, which are not. But sometimes in late stage breast cancers, a mastectomy is the only way to prevent recurrence and prevent the cancer from spreading.

For women who have had mastectomies due to cancer, prostheses in different sizes have been available for decades. Their quality has improved dramatically over the years with lighter, and more authentic prostheses being developed and used by women the world over. These have to be inserted in a bra and are not that comfortable. The idea of a mastectomy blouse originated so that the prosthesis is attached to the blouse/bra and it is easier and more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. They also look more authentic.

What kind of response are you expecting from this run?

Devieka Bhojwani: We are expecting a tremendous response to the Pinkathon Bangalore 2013 as there has been so much information about the success of the Mumbai Pinkathon 2012.

Are you planning to do this run in other cities as well?

Devieka Bhojwani: There are plans to have a Pinkathon in Delhi and maybe even Hyderabad later on this year.

Is there any data that proves that creating awareness is decreasing the cases of breast cancer.

Devieka Bhojwani: Creating awareness encourages women to get themselves examined for breast cancer regularly. This is turn helps detect cancers in their early stages which is when it is easiest to cure them successfully with 80 per-cent success rates. Even though more breast cancer cases are being detected today, the cure rates are much higher than in the past.

Post-mastectomy, what are the three most important things that a woman should keep in mind?

Devieka Bhojwani: The three things that a woman should care for after mastectomy are the following:
a) she should avoid injuries, burns, cuts, blood sampling or other procedures in the arm on the same side as mastectomy. b) she should regularly exercise the arm and shoulder on the side of mastectomy to avoid stiffness. c) she should take the post surgery treatment (chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy and/or radiation therapy) as advised by the medical team to maximize her chances of being cured of the disease. Post-mastectomy a woman should also try and stay positive. She must remember that, there are always surgeries like breast implants available post treatment. There are also prostheses and mastectomy blouses/bras.

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