Under the patronage of H.H Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the American University in the Emirates (AUE) has proudly steered the largest Cancer Awareness Campaign within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) amongst other universities.
Preluded with visits to hospital wards of children suffering from cancer, a jam packed day followed, filled with a cosmopolitan of audience that brought attendees of all nationalities, ages, professions and backgrounds to call out to cancer a message no longer hidden; awareness is the first step in stopping cancer in its tracks, whomever it may try to target.
Included in the pioneering day were a large number of educational institutes, organizations and companies, one of which, Skydive, set off the event with a spectacular show of skydivers raising three flags, that of the beloved AUE, Cancer Awareness Campaign and the UAE. Students of schools, universities and members of the public, along with the support of the AUE, cheered their efforts and raised the campaign flags up high. The support of Skydive was highly welcomed on the red carpet as they symbolized AUE’s continued determination to reach new heights to beat cancer in every possible way.
In another effort to platform emblematic activities AUE gathered all its attendees to take part in the Walkathon that circulated the University grounds showcasing a togetherness and a force much more powerful than any deadly disease. Along with horses and camels came the Ibda School for Girls dressed in their ballerina outfits, highlighting that cancer cannot even scare a child, even if it tries to come in its path. This group of ballerinas were the first at center stage performing dances to music dear to the culture of the UAE and following them were the Al Ahli Club’s Karate kids who also exhibited their powering moves of fearlessness.
Breast cancer in the UAE occurs 10 years earlier than the world average and the percentage of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UAE is similar to the global average. These extreme outcomes are due to women’s fear of social taboos concerning regular checkups. Thus, having young children present at the event was crucial as embedding a culture void of taboos surrounding awareness of cancer, its preventions and cures creates a generation with a bright and educated future that could result in saving lives. AUE is proud to be a leader in recognizing and emphasizing on education in every part of your everyday life.
AUE’s leaders in such initiatives, President Dr. Muthanna G. Abdul Razzaq and the campaign’s committee Chairman and Professor of the College of Law (CLAW), Dr. Ali Samaka, expressed their gratitude for the immense support prevailed by the UAE community at large and voiced their appreciation of encouraging a movement of national discourse that is slowly, yet surely, creating new attitudes towards cancer in the GCC region as a whole. ‘We need, as a nation, all together, to take into account this threat against humanity and become educated to influence’, concluded President Dr. Muthanna G. Abdul Razzaq in his keynote speech.
Surrounding the lush gardens and waterfalls of the AUE were numerous stalls and kiosks promoting healthy lifestyles through diet and exercise, as well as a vital supporting mechanism of awareness, the health checkup kiosk, providing all attendees with general health checkups thus normalizing a culture conscious of their health priorities. And while all had the chance to choose from these kiosks, the most important part of the day commenced; the Knowledge Forum.
As part of this great initiative recognized by such a vast audience, the Knowledge Forum was moderated by the General Director of Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) Dr. Sawsan Abdulsalam and included an educated talk with participants, Physician Consultant and Director of Dubai Police Health Centre Dr. Ali Singel, sports TV presenter and pioneer in the ‘No to Intolerance’ campaign Dr. Mustapha Alagha, Deputy Executive Director of Gulf Centre for Cancer Control and Prevention Dr. Saleh Al-Othman, American Hospital in Dubai Oncologist Dr. Maroun Al Koury and two time breast cancer survivor Nawal Raghad.
With an open arena to such a sensitive subject a learned audience were able to hear the strength of not only Nawal Raghad but our own resident faculty cancer survivor, Dr. Bassant Mohammed Said Eyada, when a student later dedicated a singing performance in her honor. Dr. Eyada said of her ordeal with cancer, ‘When I learned that I had cancer I had no knowledge of it, I only knew it was deadly. Cancer is a taboo that we don’t talk about.’ Dr. Alagha explained that Dubai, similar to AUE, was like a family that should work together to save each other. Oncologist Dr. Khoury went on to stress that, ‘If people suffering from cancer are secluded from society and don’t share their experiences and journey they hinder awareness.’
On to taking things on a much lighter note, a host of performances by AUE students were entertaining the audience so much so that they spontaneously joined in the Palestinian folkloric dance, Dabke. This fun attitude and family togetherness continued to bring to light more aspects of cancer preventions through various sporting games underlining the link between physical activity and cancer prevention. Dr. Danielle Mincey White of the College of Business Administration (COBA) also strut her moves in an aerobics class. She explained that ‘Physical activity is important as it’s key to saving us from many disease and illnesses.’ As of 2015, official figures show that 60 percent of UAE residence are overweight yet several worldwide studies indicate that daily physical activity can reduce your chances of falling under the dark spell of cancer by up to 60 percent with some of the most invasive cancers.
To wrap things up President Dr. Muthanna G. Abdul Razzaq awarded the 18 sponsors, the several participants and cancer survivors of the Cancer Awareness Campaign with certificates and trophies of appreciation encouraging them to keep this topic as prominent as it should be in such an effected region. Adding a touch of glamour, Scholarships to The Voice winners of 2015 were also awarded on behalf of the AUE.
AUE is proud to have shown that nothing is impossible and that together our actions will spark a global movement making cancer only an aspect of the past. AUE is an educator in all aspects of life and wishes to build a generation that will rid itself of any useless and life threatening taboos in order to open up a window to a future that will save lives.