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Story | Community
21 November 2021

QF workers take advantage of preventive breast cancer screening

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QF workers take advantage of preventive breast cancer screening

Image source: Romolo Tavani, via Shutterstock

Health education efforts offered free of charge to educate and empower workers across Education City

When 30-year-old Filipina Arjen Reyes was finally able to be screened for breast cancer, she felt relief and gratitude.

“My aunt died from breast cancer. She was diagnosed too late and despite aggressive treatment, she passed away. So, I am very much aware of the importance of early detection,” said Reyes.

October saw Education City host an awareness session on breast cancer, where, in addition to faculty and staff members, the invitation to the session was also extended to female workers employed by facilities management companies at Qatar Foundation (QF).

I now feel much more informed about the disease and also empowered

Arjen Reyes

Reyes said the awareness session was a much-needed learning opportunity for her, especially to understand which signs and symptoms to watch out for. “I now feel much more informed about the disease and also empowered. I know what risk factors need to be avoided, and how I can actively contribute to ensuring I stay healthy.

“One of the things I will be working on personally is ensuring I exercise. I am generally not an active person, but I will definitely work on changing that as I’ve learned that exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight plays a part in reducing the risk of breast cancer.”

Reyes said she has thought of getting screened several times in the past but hadn’t been able to. “Every time the cost of screening becomes the reason I put it off. So the complimentary screening is extremely valuable for me.”

Thankfully, her screening did not reveal any cause for concern and she was deemed in good breast health.

In addition to the great loss I feel, I am also worried that I might be genetically predisposed to breast cancer

Anushka Pradhan

“More than the aspect of physical wellbeing, I think I am relieved mentally. Since my aunt passed, I have been living in constant fear. With the screening revealing no cause for concern, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” said Anushka Pradhan, another worker at QF.

The awareness session was held in partnership with the Qatar Cancer Society. It provided an overview of the disease, its risk factors, signs and symptoms, preventive measures, and the importance of early detection. All attendees received vouchers for a free ultrasound.

“Workers play an integral role in the efficient running of our organization – a role that we are acutely aware of and deeply appreciative of. Their welfare is a priority for us, and with a large number of women in the workforce, we wanted to take this opportunity to educate them about breast cancer and give them a complimentary screening opportunity,” said Dr. Nandakumar Pillai, Health, Safety and Environment (HS&E) Primary Healthcare Occupational Health Manager at Qatar Foundation (QF).

“Early detection of breast cancer greatly increases survival rates. Therefore, the primary objective of the awareness session was to educate women on what they can do to be proactive with their breast health.”

Pradhan, who lost her mother to what she believes was breast cancer, said: “My mother was diagnosed with lumps in her breasts and before the diagnosis could be confirmed, she passed away.”

Nanda Pillai - QF workers take advantage of preventive breast cancer screening - QF - Quotes - 01
Nanda Pillai - QF workers take advantage of preventive breast cancer screening - QF - Quotes - 01

As part of our worker welfare workstream, our priority is not just ensuring their good health but also educating them

Dr. Nandakumar Pillai
Dr. Nandakumar Pillai

The sudden death of Pradhan’s mother took a toll on her mental health. “In addition to the great loss I feel, I am also worried that I might be genetically predisposed to breast cancer.”

Despite worrying about the possibility, she too had yet to go for a screening, until she received the voucher.

Dr. Pillai highlighted that approximately half of breast cancers develop in women who have no identifiable breast cancer risk factor other than gender (female) and age (over 40 years). Hence, it is extremely important that those without a genetic risk factor get tested too.

“As part of our worker welfare workstream, our priority is not just ensuring their good health but also educating them about various health issues so we can engage and empower them to choose healthy behaviors and reduce their risk of disease,” said Dr. Pillai.

QF workers take advantage of preventive breast cancer screening - QF - Quotes - 02

The awareness session was held in partnership with the Qatar Cancer Society.

In 2020, breast cancer was the most common cancer diagnosed among women in Qatar. According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99 percent.

Qatar has several laws and ministerial decisions to ensure compliance with the World Health Organization’s (WHO), ‘Health for All’ policy which states that essential healthcare should be within reach of everyone in a given country. For example: Qatar Labour Law no 14 mandates periodic medical check-ups for all workers at no cost to them.

In addition to mandatory healthcare service provided by employers as stipulated by law, workers in Qatar also have access to free world-class healthcare provided by the government.

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