Our 2nd super successful Annual Colorectal Cancer Awareness mega event!
The second Annual Colorectal Cancer Awareness event, Bluethon, was initiated by Dr Shabnam Bashir, a Vattikuti Foundation Fellow from the 2016 batch, under the aegis of the Association of Colon & Rectal Surgeons of India at Srinagar in March 2022.
According to Dr Bashir a vast majority of Colorectal cancers can be prevented if diagnosed at polyp stage as it usually takes a decade for adenomas to become cancers. As per the J&K State cancer registry nearly 20 per cent of Colorectal Cancer patients are below 35 years of age.
Hence, the need to build awareness about screening and benefits of early detection. The Bluethon initiative helped thousands of people learn about the early symptoms of Colorectal cancer so that they can go in for individual screenings for detection right at the onset.
Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, celebrated in March has brought out the need for a robust screening program so that advancements in diagnosis and treatment can improve survivorship of Colorectal cancer patients. Vattikuti Foundation supported the event held on March 17, 2023 at Srinagar, Kashmir.
Colorectal cancers stems from a variety of lifestyle factors ranging from improper diet, smoking and drinking in addition to lack of physical activity and obesity. The series of activities at the Bluethon highlighted steps to bring about lifestyle modifications that help in reducing the risk of cancers. This is the mission of the BLUETHON, to target the younger population so that they can bring in those lifestyle changes and reduce their risk over a period of time. This is what ‘Preventive Oncology’ is all about, says Dr Basheer.
It is usually very difficult to assemble masses for cancer awareness talks, especially the youth. Hence, this concept of ‘infotainment,’ where we assemble the public to actively participate in various activities like a Kayak race, the Blue Human Ribbon Formation, the Cancer Awareness Walk, creation of placards related to Colorectal Cancer Awareness (signs and symptoms, high-risk factors and lifestyle modifications for risk reduction, etc), where they feel involved and imbibe the information given in the cancer awareness talk then.
This also reiterates the role and importance of physical activity in reducing various cancers. Having a cancer survivor story segment sends a strong message to the Kashmiri society that cancers are just a bend in the road of life and not an end especially if detected early. Hearing directly from survivors also encourages other patients and masses to shun the taboo around cancers.
Such large-scale awareness drives require a lot of support and sponsorship to sustain.
The highlights of BLUETHON 2023 included a Kayak Race by participants from Sports Authority of India led by their coach Mr Zulfiqar Ali. This was followed by address by Prof Fazl Q Parray, Vice President, North Zone ACRSI; a talk on Benign colorectal disorders by Dr Kushal Mittal, Honorary Secretary of ACRSI and by Dr Shabnam Bashir, co-opted member ACRSI.
The ACRSI leadership felicitated all participating faculty, winners of Kayak race, sponsors, supporters and a Colorectal cancer warrior.
The event was sponsored mainly by the Vattikuti Foundation
The other key sponsor was EFF AAY traders, Mubarak Hospital Hyderpora, Madawa , an organization for youth, Dilshad Houseboats and the Media Mail.
The event received overwhelming support from local administration, healthcare providers, academic institutions Colorectal division of Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Directorate of Tourism Kashmir, Government Nursing College Anantnag Government Nursing College Baramulla
The CEO of Vattikuti Foundation Dr Mahendra Bhandari addressed the gathering virtually.
We were humbled & honoured by presence of accomplished colorectal surgeons. Slogan was: "Hamein Logon Ko Jagana Ha, Cancer Ko Haraana Hai” loosely translated as ‘we have to build awareness to defeat cancer.’
Dr Shabnam Basheer who has was trained as a Robotic Surgeon as a Vattikuti Fellow in 2017 owes her success to mentoring by Dr Bhandari. In addition to Colorectal cancer, Dr Basheer has also been evangelising early detection of Breast Cancer to touch around 15,000 people since 2017.
Vattikuti Foundation CEO Dr Mahendra Bhandari congratulated Dr Shabnam Basheer on her outstanding efforts and equally outstanding outcomes. Education public proactively on preventive measures to check cancer is key to improving population health.