Are we ready for the 6th Ulinzi Walk?

Participants at the 5th Ulinzi Walk held in Kigali last year. (File)

With much excitement and anticipation, we are pleased to announce that Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa (BCIEA) have now combined efforts and resources with the Minister of Health and organisers of the Car Free Day for the month of October. 

The walk will now take place on Sunday October 21 beginning at 7am from various locations around Kigali and concluding at the Rwanda Revenue Authority, Kimihurura because TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER! 

This act confirms the wisdom behind the saying that if you want to walk fast, walk alone, if you want to go far, walk together. To win the fight against breast cancer requires all of us to Walk and Work Together.

I recently asked one of our new beneficiaries at our monthly Breast Cancer Survivors Support Group Meeting if she was going to participate in this year’s Ulinzi Walk.  She said she might if I convinced her why she should walk.

This question has given me an opportunity to explain the Purpose behind Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM). BCAM is an annual international health campaign, organized to increase awareness of breast cancer and to raise funds for research into its prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. 

The campaign also offers information and support to those impacted by breast cancer including the Public at large.

Although October is the International designated month of Breast Cancer Awareness, Educational Awareness is an ongoing process at BCIEA throughout the year, because this is the most effective way to dispel myths, misconceptions and stigma that surround this disease and the only way to replace fear with Hope.

Greater awareness has resulted in earlier detection of breast cancer and significantly associated with high rates of survival rates.

The Walk has a health advocacy role to lobby for better care, more knowledge and more patient and survivor empowerment.

The Pink Ribbon is the most prominent symbol of breast cancer awareness and most breast cancer organizations are nonprofits that rely on family, friends, private and corporate financial support.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is increasingly being adopted by the corporate world where by a company increases its profitability while making a difference in the community it serves.

This is also known as cause-related marketing or promotional marketing.

Ulinzi Breast Cancer Awareness Walk is held in October: Advocates, Survivors, Caregivers, Families, Supporters and the General Public come together in solidarity to support the Fight against Breast Cancer.

The actual walking has become, to us, a symbol of the importance of physical activity in reducing risk for cancer and literally every step each one of us takes, brings us closer to the way we change our mindsets, lifestyles, diet/nutrition, take charge of our health and in turn this brings us closer to finding the answer to breast cancer.

The Walk also provides a platform for rare social interactions that allow to break the silence that surrounds breast cancer. A lot of information exchange takes place and it is an opportunity to fundraise for BCIEA programs.

It is during Ulinzi Walk ceremonies that survivors are celebrated, the departed are remembered while those going through breast cancer experience are encouraged.

The Open Community Forum after Ulinzi Walk led by a Panel of Advocates, Survivors, Doctors, Nurses, Community Leaders and Youth has become a favorite that attracts people to the walk.

The forum provides valuable and evidence based information and the Q & A session as well as free Clinical Breast Exam and other general screening for diabetes, dental, blood pressure and vision are provided free of charge.

This year, although the format is slightly different we will still be able to provide Educational Awareness, Clinical Breast Exams and also a Question and Answer time.

The collaboration with The Minister of Health, Car Free Day and other Government/NGO agencies is both an exciting and transitional time for us as we move forward in leaps and bounds ensuring that #breastcanceriseverybodysbusiness.  Worth investing in don’t you think?!

The writer is the Founder and Director of Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa Inc. (BCIEA Inc). She is also a breast cancer survivor.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.

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