Women cyclists from Mumbai went for a pink ribbon balloon bicycle ride to celebrate International Women’s Day on 6th March 2022. Although the global event is celebrated worldwide on 8th March, the ride was organized on 6th since it was a Sunday and roads are clear of traffic which makes cycling safer.
Over 40 women cyclists attended the ride which culminated at Chaityabhoomi Dadar west at the newly established Viewing Deck. This ride was arranged by Dr. Reshma Palep, Dr. Priya Vora and Ms. Meenal Yamsanwar to create awareness around breast cancer amongst other women.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2020, there were 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and 685 000 deaths globally. As of the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 5 years, making it the world’s most prevalent cancer.
I met a female participant Alka (name changed for privacy) at the viewing deck, and she narrated her story about her recent detection of cancer 6 months ago. ‘Life has changed completely for her as she is now undergoing treatment with heavy medications’ she said. ‘I cannot eat properly and have lost my sense of taste’ she added. All her life she has been actively participating in running and cycling events and maintained the best of physical fitness but to her surprise, cancer struck her. ‘I have to show courage at this point of time and not get bogged down by my condition. I am here to show solidarity to millions of other women who are suffering with cancer. I am not afraid, and I will fight this battle and will resume cycling again’ she said.
Dr. Reshma and Dr. Priya suggested that “Even though breast cancer cannot be prevented, the deaths due to it can be reduced by ‘being aware’ of its symptoms and consulting a doctor on time. Our core agenda to organize today’s ride is to create awareness in the society so that more women monitor their health and take the necessary steps for its early detection and timely treatment”.
The Viewing Deck turned pink with all the participants wearing pink cycling jerseys and with a ‘pink ribbon’ balloon which is a global symbol for cancer. When I asked Ms. Meenal Yamsanwar why she chose cycling over other sports to create awareness she replied “Cycling takes us back to our childhood and makes us feel like a child and we forget our worldly worries. For those who live in a busy bustling city like Mumbai, it helps in unwinding by connecting with nature. Overall, it has many positive benefits attached to it and as many of us are starting to cycle after a gap of several years, we are happy to combine pedal power with women power on this important day”.
Dr. Reshma Palep cycles to her clinic as and when possible and even advises her patients to unlock its healing capabilities. Cycling makes one alert and more aware of its surroundings. Likewise, the idea of organizing this critical mass event is also to make more women ‘alert’ and ‘aware’ about various important health conditions in the journey of life.
The event organizers have an intent to create an online support group through such engagement activities so that help reaches to those in need on time. Stay tuned for a bigger cyclothon next year. Until then, Happy Women’s Day and keep cycling!
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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai