Egypt’s Breast Cancer Initiative: A Platform Built On Motivation & Encouragement
Breast cancer is becoming a common illness and not just worldwide but also in the Arab World. Just this year, there were 463,675 new cases with Arab women making up 2.4% of the global percentage. Despite it becoming a more common occurrence, many questions and misconceptions still abound. That is why many organizations and institutions have come to the surface to not only act as a beacon of hope but also spread knowledge to the cancer community and the world at large.
With it being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to shine a light on one such institution, the up and coming foundation known as Egypt’s Breast Cancer Initiative. While speaking with Dr. Tamer Manie, a surgical oncologist and the initiative’s founder, we got to see how with a little sprinkle of creativity and passion, raising awareness can be done in a way that is both fun and rewarding for everyone.
What is the story behind this initiative? How did it all start?
It all started 3 years ago. At that time, I held several workshops and conferences to teach people about breast cancer during corporate events but because of corona, I had to think of a new way to spread awareness. That is how the initiative came to be. We launched our official Instagram page that became the official platform of the entire initiative.
What makes your platform stand out?
We like to do things with a twist and a touch of creativity. We want to move away from overused methods of merely posting warning messages on Instagram which only lead to the same outcome of people not caring or taking action. Our approach is unique as it involves encouraging people to take part in a set of challenges that we release during the month of October, our very first challenge was called ‘Delivery Change Challenge’.
Anyone taking part in the challenge would put a jar near their door and each time they would order delivery, whatever change they would get back would be added to the jar. By the end of the month the money in that jar would then get donated to the National Cancer Institute. Once the challenge is done, anyone who took part would share what they did as an Instagram story and tag three people. It then leads to that domino effect of three people becoming six and so on. The best part is that it is a very easy and hassle free way to donate money.
What other cool Instagram challenges do you have?
We have a really fun challenge called ‘Work Out In Pink’ and we collaborated with many sport facilities to bring this challenge to life. Anyone participating has to wear a pink shirt and they can either post a story of themselves working out at their home or gym or they can head to any of the sport facilities we are partnering with to take part in the challenge as a big group. By tagging three people in their Instagram story, this again will have that domino effect of increasing the number of people joining the cause and raising awareness.
Other than the challenges, we noticed you also have a wall of support on your Instagram. Can you tell us more about it?
The Wall of Support is basically a public thank you to everyone who raised awareness and collaborated with us, inspired by the Wall of Fame. I wanted to publicly thank everyone, the bloggers, the corporations that we partnered with, the athletes, literally everyone.
It’s a simple way to thank many people who have helped us raise awareness and raise funds. What is great about it is that during the first year that we launched the wall, when people saw it and noticed how many people helped out, they ended up wanting to be on the following year’s Wall of Support. That meant even more people took part in our challenges which helped to raise even more awareness about breast cancer.
In what other ways does the Instagram platform help?
Our platform is not just to encourage donations, we want to help educate people about breast cancer and increase their knowledge. There are many times when clients would go to my clinic, say they googled their symptoms and know for sure that they have cancer but once I perform a check up, they turn out to be cancer free.
We wanted a way to avoid this sort of false diagnosis and the scary loop people find themselves in when they google their symptoms online. So on our platform, we offer credible information that is handy and easily available. You’ll find some of the most common questions about breast cancer answered and simplified. We like to answer these questions in a unique and fun way. For example, we would post a question like “How is breast cancer accurately diagnosed?” and follow it with another post of a video of myself giving a simple explanation to that question.
Another way we would answer questions would be through a quiz-like decision tree. We made one for breast cancer detection where you have to answer yes or no questions until the flowchart guides you to an answer that is applicable to your situation.
Overall, we like to keep things light and simple so people would find it easy to learn about breast cancer and get answers to questions that they may find confusing or complicated.
With all that was accomplished so far, to you personally, what is the initiative’s biggest achievement?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we do not have a large following on Instagram despite the fact that a lot of people take part in our challenges. That is why I was so proud when a renowned medical company reached out and told us that our initiative was the best breast cancer awareness platform they ever encountered on Instagram. It was great to receive that acknowledgement from a reputable company in the medical field.
What is your biggest goal for the month of October?
This year, we hope to encourage a larger amount of people to take part in the delivery page challenge as that will help to raise awareness and increase donations. We also hope that people will benefit from the information we offer on our Instagram page whether it be by encouraging them to do a proper cancer check up to avoid false diagnosis or to consult a doctor in general.