Dubai, 12 April 2015 – Al Jalila Foundation, a global philanthropic organisation dedicated to transforming lives through medical education and research, has today signed an agreement with Brest Friends, the only breast cancer support group in Dubai. The agreement aims to tackle the issues of breast cancer in the UAE through raising awareness, fund research and support treatment of patients.
A study by Dr David Spiegel, Willson Professor and Associate Chair of Psychiatry & Behavioural Sciences Medical Director at the Stanford University School of Medicine, reported that group therapy helped women with breast cancer as well as their surroundings to cope with battling the disease and prolonging their lives. Through educating, providing comfort, teaching coping skills, and financial backing, support groups have proven to help reduce anxiety and depression in turn, enhancing the quality of life of the patients.
Together, Al Jalila Foundation and Brest Friends aim to raise funds for breast cancer treatment and research in the UAE and to further increase awareness on the disease. Al Jalila Foundation will allocate 70 percent of the funds raised towards treatment through the A’awen (support in Arabic) programme, which provides financial aid to UAE-based patients suffering from various illnesses, including breast cancer. The remaining 30 percent will be invested in building medical research capacity in the UAE necessary for tackling the disease; funds will be channelled through the UAE’s first independent multi-disciplinary medical research centre, Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre. Expected to open in 2016, the Centre will conduct biomedical research, with a focus on prevention and education on the health issues prevalent in the UAE, including breast cancer.
Dr Abdulkareem Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, commented: “In line with Brest Friend’s like-minded vision, we are fully committed to transforming lives through medical education, treatment and research. Studies have shown that women living in the UAE are significantly more susceptible to breast cancer than in the west and at a younger age; having said that, very little research on this issue is done locally – instead, we are obliged to rely on resourcing from abroad, a considerably more costly option. With Al Jalila Foundation’s mission to encourage home-grown talent and research in the UAE, this partnership will serve as a catalyst to our mission of saving lives.”
Through seminars and workshops, Al Jalila Foundation and Brest friends will provide a platform for raising awareness on breast cancer and women’s need for support and friendship during treatment. Patients and families will participate in education workshops on provision of emotional guidance, early detection of the
disease through teaching self-examination techniques, and how to cope with the treatment process.
Dr Houriya Kazim, President and Founder of Brest Friends, commented: “Dealing with cancer is one of the hardest challenges that patients and their families could face; it is a human need to be nurtured, especially when faced with significant life challenges. Brest Friends aims to be that nurturing support to minimise the psychological side effects of coping with the disease. Whether the stress roots from the lack of awareness on the disease, emotional strain of the treatment or financial struggle, working with Al Jalila Foundation will help us support these patients in having a brighter outlook on their futures and ultimately saving lives.”
Brest Friends was established 10 years ago by Emirati Dr Houriya Kazim, the UAE’s first female surgeon and most recognized authority on breast cancer in the country. The breast cancer support group was initially aimed at raising money for education and awareness and has today grown to also provide financial support to patients in need.
According to the World Health Organisation 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. In the UAE, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, with the number of cases having increased by around 20 percent since 2009. The chances of survival are between 95-100 percent if detected early, however this reduces to 86 percent if detected at stage 2, and becomes 57 percent only at stage 3.