Zonta Club of Colombo II spreads breast cancer awareness in Sri Lanka

The Zonta Club of Colombo II, Sri Lanka, has been focused on providing breast cancer support for many years by supplying breast comfort care cushions free of charge to over 30 critical hospitals around the country, with more than 2,500 cushions being sent to breast cancer surgery patients annually.

The highest form of cancer among women in Sri Lanka is breast cancer. Due to the financial situation of the country, mammograms are given free of charge to only those who show symptoms of breast cancer or are at high risk. Therefore, the recommended form of breast cancer check is the breast self-exam.

The club carried out an extensive campaign on social media, print media, awareness sessions and television coverage to highlight the importance of monthly breast self-exams to identify breast cancer early. The project focused on making these self-exams a monthly practice from an early age.

The title of the club's campaign was, "It won't happen to me, Until it does!" It brings awareness that breast cancer could affect a woman of any age. The common myths, such as "I am too young," "I am healthy and active," and "I have no family history of breast cancer," were addressed in a video created and shared extensively on social media platforms from 1 October. The club produced the video in Sinhala, Tamil and English, the three languages spoken in Sri Lanka, so no women are omitted as a target audience due to language. The audience reached was very significant, with several companies in Sri Lanka wanting to partner with the club on the video.

Apart from the video, six in-person awareness campaigns were conducted throughout October, with the first being to school students, followed by an audience of policewomen, then awareness sessions in Jaffna District and several awareness sessions in Colombo city. The awareness programs were carried out by doctors within the National Health Service, and the message was on the importance and techniques of the breast self-exam. The awareness programs were carried out in Sinhala, Tamil and English based on the audience's preference. There have been many requests from companies and schools to conduct more awareness campaigns in subsequent months after viewing the video or attending the awareness session.

As breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst Sri Lankan Women, providing the knowledge required for early detection offers empowerment to the women and their health, thus standing firm to Zonta's mission of empowerment.