Actress and singer Olivia Newton-John, diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, with other guests at the Bridge of Health in Budapest.
Breast cancer kills more than half a million people around the world each year, but many of these deaths could be prevented if diagnosed early. Teaching women (and men, who are also at risk of developing breast cancer) how to recognize the signs of breast cancer is crucial to the success of cancer treatments. Across the world, we are faced with the challenge of educating and increasing awareness for breast cancer and the need for regular screenings and self-examinations.
To coincide with October, World Breast Cancer Awareness Month, GE Healthcare has been leading a worldwide campaign to highlight the importance of breast cancer awareness and feature some of the activities held during this month. There are so many events and fundraisers taking place across multiple continents, many countries and involving hundreds of thousands of dedicated people, all with the aim to promote and increase the public’s knowledge about the need for early diagnosis of breast cancer.
In Hungary, the Bridge of Health Alliance organized its ninth annual breast cancer and health campaign, bringing together thousands of people to walk across Budapest’s Széchenyi Chain Bridge – the city’s most famous Danube crossing. With support from GE Healthcare, the bridge was illuminated in pink, the international color of breast cancer awareness.
The fact is that 2,300 women die of breast cancer every year in Hungary. It’s estimated that nearly a third of those women would still be alive if more women attended breast cancer screenings. Hungary already has an advanced breast cancer-screening program. Set up in 2001, there are 15 digital mammography units installed across the country, with women aged between 45 and 65 automatically issued an invitation to come for a screening.
The Bridge of Health Alliance’s accompanying conference saw many special guests in attendance, including actress and singer Olivia Newton-John. Newton-John beat breast cancer after she was diagnosed with the disease in 1992.Today she campaigns for greater awareness of breast health issues. Talking about the need to detect cancer as early as possible, Newton-John said: “If you’re aware of it and check for it regularly, your chances are much better.”
The Bridge of Health Alliance has also launched the Bridge of Health Partner Chain, an initiative comprising 16 companies and a total of 100,000 employees who have pledged to make healthier life choices, such as stopping smoking, eating better and taking regular exercise. With 13,000 staff, GE is the largest engineering company in Hungary.GE Healthcare’s ‘healthymagination’ initiative aims to make a real difference to central European countries by providing technology solutions to help deliver better care at a lower cost. The program also strives to help implement a broad shift towards more sustainable healthcare systems and improved patient outcomes.
GE’s healthymagination has also been making a difference to breast cancer awareness in Asia Pacific, with the first GE healthymagination Walk beginning in New Zealand and spreading to cities in Australia, Japan, Korea, and Singapore – all within 24 hours.
“October is the Breast Cancer Awareness Month established and promoted by the World Health Organization globally and many of the Asia Pacific countries need to raise awareness of breast cancer,” said Akihiko Kumagai, President & CEO of GE Healthcare Asia Pacific.
Elsewhere in Asia, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade in the Philippines saw 18,000 people participate in Avon’s ‘Step Out! Against Breast Cancer 5K run. Led by guests of honor and well-known personalities, the overwhelming support shown by the Filipino people demonstrates that breast cancer awareness and support is a real priority, both in the Philippines and across the world.
Avon Breast Cancer Crusade also arranged a forum of experts to discuss best practices in breast cancer screening, early detection and treatment. The ‘Promoting Patient Power 2’ session focused on a range of issues, but paid particular attention to patients’ timely transition from screening to diagnosis and finally, if required, treatment.
Back in Europe, three teams of GE Healthcare runners entered the 25th Munich Marathon to support this worthwhile activity and help raise money for breast cancer charity, Brustkrebs Munchen e.V. GE Healthcare donated €10 for every kilometer completed by the three teams, plus €1,000 in personal donations from the runners themselves. It is vital that everyone knows the importance of detecting breast cancer early, as it really can make the difference between life and death.
Help spread the word! See more stories from doctors, survivors, advocates and care givers tackling breast cancer – and add your own – at GE Healthcare’s Breast Cancer Emotion digital wall.