October is breast cancer awareness month, and the Portuguese-American Women’s Empowerment Alliance has allied with this cause, which affects around 6,000 women diagnosed with the disease in Portugal every year. Women’s health is, after all, part of their empowerment mission, as it affects every aspect of a woman’s life and of everyone around her.
One of the foundation’s initiatives is the virtual walk #PAWEAwalkforher, which challenges its public to walk together 6,000 kilometers throughout the month. Through a quick registration at https://paweawalkforher.causevox.com, participants can add their progress and start their own fundraising, inviting and sharing on social media. All donations will revert to two Portuguese institutions, Evita and Mama Help, which work in the field to prevent and support women affected by breast cancer.
Evita focuses mostly on raising awareness and preventing the disease, which can save lives and avoid more advanced cancers from arising. It helps to improve the quality of life of individuals and families affected by hereditary cancer by clarifying the risk of cancer due to genetic disposition, family history or other factors. It is an active voice among public institutions, the medical and scientific communities, the media and society in general, and supports individuals by providing information, promoting meetings and helping each other.
Mama Help, in turn, emerges as a diversified resource center, open to everyone. It also provides information and support, from the first diagnosis and at all stages of the disease, improving the quality of life of those experiencing or living with the disease. In addition to medical treatment, it has a more holistic approach, which focuses on aspects such as mental care and support for the entire network that involves the patient, such as the families that are an integral part of the process and recovery.
The Portuguese-American Women’s Empowerment Alliance has decided to give voice and support to these two organizations not only through their virtual walk, but by raising awareness among their members and the public about the necessary work and social change so that scientific research advances in this direction, but mainly to create more and improved living conditions and a broad support network for breast cancer patients.
Also during the month of October, it will hold an online conference open to the general public, with the participation of two doctors specialized in the disease. Dr. John Williams of Virginia, United States, has dedicated his career to developing less invasive and more compassionate treatments for women and men suffering from breast cancer. And Dr. Fátima Cardoso, oncology physician and Director of the Breast Unit at the Champalimaud Clinical Center, is an active voice in the community raising awareness among social and political agents on issues related to cancer patients, seeking the visibility and dignity they deserve, and who therefore has founded the Advanced Breast Cancer (ABC) Global Alliance, which she has chaired since 2016.
Through this conference, PAWEA seeks to shed some light on the impact that the pandemia has had (and is having) on breast cancer testing, diagnosis and treatment, workplace policies that affect patients, and prevention and care measures, and healthcare, both in the United States and in Portugal. Despite different contexts, situations of inequality, accessibility and continued care are still a major challenge for both nations, with regard to this disease. Also in the area of research, despite the reduction in mortality in the last years, it is urgent and necessary to obtain more promising results.
Committed to doing more and better for women on both sides of the Atlantic, PAWEA considers access to health and improved care to be paramount to their empowerment. Its mission to connect and uplift women through leadership can only be accomplished by moving forward on this front as well, without leaving any women behind. Because to go further they need to walk together.