LEAD Student Conference Focuses on ‘Outlive: Breast Cancer’

Students in the Leadership for Education and Development (LEAD) program hosted the 11th annual conference on Outlive: Breast Cancer
Students in the Leadership for Education and Development (LEAD) program hosted the 11th annual conference on Outlive: Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in Egypt, according to the Breast Cancer Foundation of Egypt, and in the United States, one in every eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Aiming to increase breast cancer awareness and educate both men and women about early breast cancer prevention, detection and diagnosis, students in the Leadership for Education and Development (LEAD) program held their 11th  ­­­­--­­­ and last -- annual conference on Outlive: Breast Cancer. The conference covered a wide range of factors on the disease, from common causes of breast cancer, risk factors, self-detection and early diagnosis to psychological support for cancer patients, methods of treatment and inspiring stories from survivors, community workers and public figures.

“Awareness is key to saving lives,” said Madonna Ebied, a LEAD student majoring in business administration. “Breast cancer is curable if you discover it at an early stage. Also, if you gain the knowledge and research the right information, you can avoid the loss of a family member or friend.”

The conference, held in collaboration with Egyptian Society of Women's Health, which conducts early cancer detection campaigns, sponsored tests and seminars for women of all classes, included AUC students and 200 delegates from Mansoura, Fayyoum, Beni Suif, Assiout, and Ain Shams universities, as well as Cairo and Giza. 

Emphasizing the importance of educating ourselves on breast cancer, Nehal El Sayed, chair of the LEAD conference and a senior majoring in business administration and integrated marketing communication, noted, “One in every eight women has a chance of getting breast cancer. It is not an issue to ignore or avoid facing. We never think of it as our problem until it actually happens. Instead of avoiding the c-word (cancer) and acting ignorant, we should talk, discuss and learn about it. Breast cancer is an enemy that we can actually outlive and that many already have.”

El Sayed added, “When we asked a sample of 500 people about their knowledge on breast cancer, most of them knew nothing or very little, so that’s why we are here today to widen the circle of awareness through sharing what we learned with everyone.”

LEAD students’ plan to continue spreading breast cancer awareness by speaking with medical students from local universities and raising funds on campus. “In Egypt, health awareness is not common, and health facilities don’t provide sufficient knowledge about cancer,” said Saffa Abdel Baky, a LEAD student majoring in multimedia journalism. “The conference taught me the importance of communicating information to local community members in ways that they can understand. For example, professional speakers recommended not to use jargon or medical terminology when speaking to average citizens.”

El Sayed added, “It was a great experience to be part of the last LEAD conference. It helps to share what we’ve learned and give back to the community by bringing in attendees from diverse backgrounds, where we all exchange information and come up with ideas that could be further used to develop our country.”

LEAD is a joint program between the United States Agency for International Development, Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation and AUC. Since 2005, the program has been offering a full-tuition scholarship for 54 students annually from Egypt’s 27 governorates – one male and one female student each year – to study at AUC. This is the last conference hosted by the program.