By: Becky Olson and Sharon Henifin
October 2008 was a significant month for Breast Friends. Co-founders Sharon Henifin and Becky Olson had the opportunity to take the Breast Friends’ message to the global breast cancer communities – in the Middle East and in the Cayman Islands.
Moonlight Breast Cancer Walk in the Middle East
Sharon Henifin had the pleasure to participate in a historical event this month while visiting her daughter in Qatar. “Think Pink Qatar,” with support from www.iloveqatar.net and The Qatar National Cancer Society (QNCS) organized the first breast cancer walk in Doha, Qatar.
This event holds monumental and historic significance because in the culture of the Middle East, men and women do not work or socialize together. But on October 25, 2008, they broke that tradition for the sake of breast cancer awareness. Men and women from all over the world come to Qatar to work. Many of these people came together with locals to make the first “Think Pink” moonlight walk a wonderful success.
Dr. Sheikh Khalid, QNCS Chairman, addressed the gathering at the conclusion of the walk. Sharon Henifin of Breast Friends was honored when she was asked to speak from the survivor perspective to the expectant crowd of nearly 500. Sharon’s goal was to make sure the audience understood that breast cancer doesn’t need to be a death sentence with early detection and treatment.
Chairman and founder of Think Pink, Karen Al Kharouf, is very committed to the cause. She said, “This is the first step toward spreading the awareness of breast cancer throughout Qatar. Think Pink Qatar promises to continue to raise awareness throughout Qatar while teaming with others here in Qatar and internationally to find the best resources available to fight the disease.” Breast Friends is glad to be able to help in her mission. Kharouf went on to say, “On October 25th, 2008, what we did together broke down cultural boundaries and language barriers allowing us to come together as ONE in the fight against Breast Cancer.”
The campaign aims to raise funds and provide emotional support to breast cancer patients in Qatar.
Message of Hope Offered to Cayman Island Residents
Half way around the world, Becky shared a similar message with residents of the Cayman Islands during the District Awareness meetings sponsored by the Lyon’s Clubs.
History was also being made there as her story was shared with participants at two different meetings; to a television audience, and two student bodies at the local middle school and high school.
Traditionally, the messages have been delivered by physicians and have focused primarily on the clinical aspects of the disease. Becky brought a new perspective to the island by sharing through her personal experience that early detection and treatment can and most likely will save their lives - a view that was not often shared during previous years.
Becky said, “It’s wonderful that no matter where we go women have similar needs for support, hope and compassion. The Breast Friends message really reached into their hearts.”
Liz Smith from the Lyon’s Club Tropical Gardens indicated that going forward they would be inviting more survivors to share their story and bring messages of hope to the people of Grand Cayman.
Becky Olson is a professional keynote speaker and author. Her inspiration comes from her experience as a two-time breast cancer survivor and co-founder of a successful non-profit, Breast Friends in Oregon. Becky left her career in sales and sales management to pursue her dream of speaking and writing. He book, "The Hat That Saved My Life," was first published in 2004. Becky now travels all over the country sharing hope and inspiration to women suffering through the same disease that one time threatened her life.
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