On Monday (26), one of Colombo’s most notable building structures – the Lotus Tower – was illuminated in the colour pink as part of the month-long campaign courtesy of the Indira Cancer Trust in raising awareness on breast cancer.
The Lotus Tower’s pink lighting is part of the Global Landmark Illumination Campaign initiated in 2000, which sees monuments in over 140 countries illuminated in pink light, to promote global awareness of breast cancer, specifically to remind everyone of the importance of early detection of breast cancer and being proactive about your health.
In addition to this particular event, the Indira Cancer Trust had a number of other activities which they carried out from the beginning of October. One such event was on 2 October where the women of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) donned pink sarees with the purpose of rising awareness and the CMC building was lit up in pink.
We spoke to Indira Cancer Trust Chairperson and Trustee Dr. Lanka Jayasuriya Dissanayake, who shared their vision in carrying out these activities throughout the month of October. She stated that as the month of October is dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer and it is a global initiative, they wish to carry forward this work in Sri Lanka.
She said that historically the colour pink and the pink ribbon has been significant in the breast cancer awareness movement, being utilised to signify the importance of raising awareness through Touch, Look, Check (TLC) campaigns for early detection and also in celebrating survivors and victims of the illness.
She shared that there are a number of myths surrounding breast cancer and getting tested as well, adding that with regards to testing what they encourage is their primary campaign – TLC, which encourages all women above the age of 20 to carry out a monthly self-examination to touch, look, and check the breast; if one finds anything out of the norm, they are to reach out to the nearest healthcare professional and proceed from there.
She said that they do not encourage annual mammograms and that getting repeated mammograms is not advisable to your health as it carries a cancer risk as well. She said that what they do encourage is for women over the age of 55 to get mammograms, and that too every two to three years.
Dr. Jayasuriya Dissanayake said: “You cannot know what is abnormal without knowing what is normal and so you must first get to know your body; carry out your self-assessment under the same conditions every month,” she said, advising that if you are menstruating, the ideal time to do it is seven days after your period. She stated that there are clear and detailed guidelines available via the Indira Cancer Trust.
She said that around 4,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Sri Lanka every year, and with breast cancer being an illness that can be 100% cured if detected early, these numbers can be seriously curtailed to simply diagnoses.
Dr. Jayasuriya Dissanayake said that their hope is to reduce the number of people walking through their doors requiring their help; they wish to reduce the number of people suffering from breast cancer in Sri Lanka.