The BCFE has launched “ Unmute the Stillness” initiative addressing MBC, at Marriott Hotel, Zamalek. The event was in the form of a public forum. The panel included professors of Oncology, Radiology, and Pain Management as well a psychotherapist. MBC and Breast Cancer patients attended and took part in the the interactive discussion. Dr. Ibrahim Al-Kerdani moderated the event.
Human Development Ambassador of the World Health Organization (WHO); actress Simone was the special guest speaker.
MBC is considered an advanced level of cancer as it spreads from the breast to other body parts such as lungs, muscles, and the brain. Unfortunately, there is no effective cure for MBC found till now.
The event began with a video explaining the disease in which Dr. Mohamed Shaalan – Professor of surgical Oncology at National Council Institute– had spoken about MBC and the role of BCFE towards it. The video also displayed the testimonials of some patients living with MBC.
In the opening speech, Dr Kerdany stated, “Media has a vital role in spreading awareness about MBC, and the internet is not enough to reach villages and remote districts.” He then presented the results of BCFE’s survey on 165 MBC patients.
Moreover, Dr. Tamer Al-Nahas – Professor of Oncology at Cairo University – presented the latest radiation and medical treatment methods resulting from the development of hormonal, biological, fixed, and immune cures.
Dr. Amr Shafik – Assistant Professor Oncology at Ain Shams University – spoke about medical trials, and dealing with the oncologists. He stressed the importance of patients’ quality of life. He assured that the success of the treatment journey depends on the doctor and patient relationship, and that the patient has the right to know about his/ her treatment options and side effects.
Furthermore, Dr. Raafat Mahfouz – Assistant Professor of Pain at the National Council Institute – talked about cancer care to MBC patients. He said that it was important not to leave the patient suffering from pain, so that it wouldn’t turn into chronic one. In addition, the patient has the right to take palliative care to reduce the pain. He advised doctors and medical organizations to pay more attention to the psychological, social, and emotional sides while dealing with patients who suffer from cancer.
According to the psychotherapist and counselor Mai Kabbani, it is important to change the common stigma associated with cancer along with fear, lack of self-confidence, and guilt feelings. ...etc. She focused on the psychological effect on improving the patients’ lifestyles.
The survivor and director of Women’s Health Center at BCFE, Ghada Salah, presented the different optimistic and pessimistic attitudes that MBC patients might have, and invited them to speak about their problems with the panel of doctors.
The patients expressed their hopes to receive treatment without obstacles related to finance or routine. Ms K.A. (MBC patient) said, “I suffer from long waiting time during medical follow-ups, besides the inappropriate attitude of technicians and nurses, this makes me disappointed and avoid going there.” She added, “I don’t need the doctor to tell me that I will get better, but I want him/her to honestly inform me with my case and encourage me to bear it.”
Another patient, Ms S.M. presented her problem saying, “Being cured at the expense of the state made it much easier for me, but I still have one problem which is that the different medical centers where I am treated are not connected. Getting treatment or check-ups is a tedious process”.
Dr. Shaalan has assured that the rising numbers of MBC patients is due to the lack of awareness and working only on Breast Cancer and Early Detection without paying much attention to the possibility of its spread to other body parts. Thus, BCFE has launched “Unmute the Stillness” initiative to break the social silence surrounding the ignorance of medical and health associations and society on this topic.
At the end of the day, a number of recommendations were suggested by Ghada Mostafa; PR and Media Manager at BCFE. These recommendations should be implemented to improve lifestyle and cure for MBC patients.
Metastatic Breast Cancer forum recommendations:
1- Creating an institutionalized system for scientific research in MBC.
2- Providing financial and technical sponsorship for scientific research in MBC.
3- Encouraging patients to undergo medical experiments in order to develop treatment methods.
4- Encouraging patients to discuss available treatment options with their doctors so that patients become their own decision makers.
5- Encouraging doctors to discuss psychological and physical side effects of the disease with their patients.
6- Informing patients about their medical and humanitarian rights as well as their rights in knowing all that's related to being a cancer patient.
7- Involving all sectors of society especially electronic, read, and heard media mediums to draw societal attention to Metastatic Breast Cancer and how to deal with it.
8- Establishing special units at national and private metastatic breast cancer treatment centers to psychologically support patients as well as introducing new treatment methods like yoga to improve the psychological and physical status of patients.
9- Providing effective painkillers in the pain clinics and facilitating their use.
10- Decreasing bureaucracy in the state owned medical institutions to ease the patient's process in getting medications.
11) BCFE announced the launch of a regional coalition for all the Middle East countries to invite all NGOs, institutions, and initiatives that work in fighting cancer to join BCFE in starting a committee to set the strategic work plan..
12- Training young doctors and supporters at the beginning of their professional career on how to emotionally and professionally connect with patients.