South Africa’s best-loved strawberry cream liqueur, Strawberry Lips has always been at the forefront of rallying South African women to embrace their authenticity, empower themselves and feel beautiful in their own skin. A cause close to their heart and the highlight on the calendar is always their Breast Cancer Awareness campaign to raise funds for PinkDrive and encourage women to be informed and take preventative measures.
This year’s campaign, #PinkDiaries, brings together 14 local celebrities, influencers and breast cancer survivors to share their stories of how their lives have been affected by breast cancer, encouraging others to do regular self-examinations and check-ups. Here is what we’ve learnt from this thought-provoking initiative:
One in 27 women
Breast cancer is the number one cancer affecting women in South Africa and with one in 27 women developing the disease in their lifetime, and the effect this year’s pandemic has had on the screening and treatment of non-communicable diseases like cancer, breast checks and educational drives simply cannot be ignored. PinkDrive says that approximately 105,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in South Africa every year, but it is estimated that due to lockdown a third of people are not reaching cancer screening services.
If a third, or about 35,000 people, are not picked up through screening and referred for treatment, the cost of Covid-19 will be far greater than the number of people who die from it.
The greatest key to surviving cancer is early detection, but only you can do that. Though each of the women featured in #PinkDiaries come from different background and walks of life, they all have one message: the importance of self-examinations and regular breast check-ups. On the #PinkDiaries site, you’ll find an easy to read infographic on how to examine your breasts yourself and the steps to take should you find a lump.
Men get it too
Though women are most affected by breast cancer, it does affect men as well. Health and wellness practitioner Joseph Winer says, “In South Africa, we have the highest rate of male breast cancer in the world. It is not uncommon but the problem is that it is usually hard to diagnose. Two out of 100 men are diagnosed with breast cancer.”
Ask for help
The brave survivors and warriors of #PinkDiaries each have their own amazing journeys to share. They are stories of hope, faith and above all the drive to give in to their illness. Another part of the tale is asking for help. Though for each, their support systems differing, the key is knowing when to ask for help when things get tough and, of course, accepting the help of others.
Talk about it
In South Africa, there’s a shroud of shame that develops over breast cancer. Many of the #PinkDiaries women share how it is sometimes seen as a curse or how they felt that they couldn’t talk about the disease with those around them. This needs to change. Many women in South Africa do not get the treatment they need, because of fear. One survivor shares how she lost her grandmother to breast cancer after she felt a lump and was too afraid to get it checked out. By talking about their experiences, #PinkDiaries shows that this disease doesn’t have any hold of them.
Only we can change the dialogue around breast cancer. For more empowering stories and helpful information, head to the #PinkDiaries page.