It was a sea of pink at the Pink Wig-A-Thon 2017 charity run as 2,500 participants donned pink wigs in support of breast cancer awareness at the Perdana Botanical Garden in Kuala Lumpur.
The second biennial campaign was organised by Pink Ribbon Wellness (L) Foundation (PRWLF) in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month to raise breast cancer awareness and raise funds for its activities.
A large bunch of pink ribbon balloons was released to mark the start of the run.
There were performances and lucky draws to keep participants entertained after the 5km and 10km runs.
Cheok Leng, a 46-year-old chartered accountant, joined the event to support a friend who has breast cancer.
“I’ve always kept myself informed about breast cancer, it is common knowledge,” she said.
Natasha Eger, 29, was seen sporting a cut-up version of the run’s T-shirt.
“The T-shirt was too big, so my friend helped me to modify it,” she explained.
“People think they are immune to breast cancer until it hits them. Everyone is at risk, even men, hence it is good for the public to learn more about it,” said Eger.
Many men took part in the event to support the cause.
One of them was Stewart Chen, a 50-year-old designer, who joined the 5km walk in support of his girlfriend, a breast cancer survivor.
“When she had breast cancer, joining a support group was helpful,” he said.
Foundation co-founder and honorary chief executive officer Yong Lee Lee said the number of participants had doubled.
“There were not as many participants at our inaugural event two years ago because of the haze.
“Aside from raising funds, we want to create awareness because of two worrying trends – more younger women are being diagnosed with breast cancer and 43% of those diagnosed are at advanced stage; this shows that what we are doing is not enough.
“It is important to do self-examination and women above 40 should go for a mammogram,” she said.
Foundation co-founder and chairman Datuk Dr M. Devanand, a former breast surgeon, said with more than 5,000 women being diagnosed each year, they still had a long way to go in raising awareness.
“Previously we had awareness programmes in October every year. However, we realised that we could only reach out to those in urban areas such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor, but not rural areas.
“So in 2009, I started a volunteer group of cancer survivors and went to Brisbane for an international conference to expose them to the importance of learning about breast cancer,” he said.
He added that funds raised would be used to provide breast health education and breast screening services to the local community as well as support services to breast cancer patients and their families.
“It will be channelled to the 3rd Life Beyond Breast Cancer Conference on Aug 2, 2018, where more than 500 delegates from all over the country are expected to attend.
“It is hoped that after attending the conference, participants can set up their own support groups and share the knowledge,” he said, adding that the Pink Wig-A-Thon would also be held in Arau, Perlis on Nov 4.
Guests of honour at the event were Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim and the foundation’s patron Puan Sri Maniseh Adam.
Rohaini said, “Aside from raising awareness, we also want to show these are the support groups for breast cancer patients.”
Datuk Dr Ibrahim A. Wahid, medical director of Beacon Hospital, one of the sponsors of the run, said the hospital planned to allocate RM2mil in subsidies for chemotherapy and will launch the corporate social responsibility programme on Oct 23.
“We want to emphasise early treatment for breast cancer and are committed to helping patients who have difficulty in paying for the treatment.
“We have also allocated RM9mil for radiotherapy,” he said.
Bereavement service provider Nirvana Asia Group showed their support by sending their staff to participate in the run.
The company will also be giving pink ribbon pins made by the group’s staff to customers and the public who donate to the cause this month at all its central region branches.
For details, visit www.facebook.com/pinkribbonwellnessfoundation