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Lovepink: Fighting Breast Cancer Together

Lovepink is a breast cancer community supporting ‘warriors’ and ‘survivors’ in their battle. Through campaigns such as breast self-examinations (SADARI), Lovepink strives to raise awareness of breast cancer until Indonesia is free from the disease.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women worldwide, accounting for 23 percent of all cancer in Indonesia, with a mortality rate of 14 percent. According to the Health Ministry and the Indonesia Cancer Foundation (YKI), breast cancer was the most common cancer in the nation in 2012, behind cervical cancer.

Breast cancer patients are faced with physical, emotional, psychological and also financial challenges from the moment they are diagnosed. Undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and mastectomy are distressing procedures for breast cancer patients.

While the treatments work to battle the disease, breast cancer patients also require a substantial amount of financial resources and a support system to help them fight the disease successfully. Those who must undergo a mastectomy not only face the reality of losing significant parts of their womanhood, but must also struggle to make adjustments. In turn, some women might deal with self-esteem issues and, sadly, stories circulate of some women even being left by their husbands.

Breast cancer survivor Madelina Mutia found these experiences to be “very traumatic”. Along with her friend Shanti Persada, the two went through a tough battle. “We struggled to overcome the emotional trauma and suffered the loss of an important part of our femininity to cancer,” explains Mutia. But instead of dwelling on such difficult experiences, Mutia and Persada were inspired to share their experiences with other women who were also diagnosed with this form of cancer.

In 2011, Mutia and Persada built the breast cancer community, Lovepink. The group, consisting of women who have and are still fighting breast cancer, has become a home for those who seek support, guidance and also information. Mutia and Persada felt that emotional support was something that needed to be reinforced so that warriors are spared from feeling all alone in their struggle.

Spreading hope, courage and inspiration, Lovepink wishes to help women understand that it is not impossible to defeat the disease.

Lovepink members in a makeup class

Lovepink members in a makeup class

Lovepink suggests that 80 percent of cancer treatment deals with how patients perceive the disease they are fighting. Therefore, Mutia encourages warriors to have faith. “We would like them to believe that breast cancer is not the end of the world. Your determination to be healthy is the main key. Positive thinking plays a big role.”

Embodying the spirit of this community, Lovepink members are “fighters to the end” according to survivor, Aini Hutasoit. She recounts a particular story shared by a fellow survivor who was in the midst of getting a divorce when she was diagnosed. “She was in her early 30s with no job and two small children. But her faith and determination to win her life back got her through all of that. With the support of her family and friends she has come out a winner with a clean bill of health for the past 14 years,” Hutasoit said.

In 2014, Lovepink was officially known as a foundation under the name of Yayasan Daya Dara Indonesia. As the amount of breast cancer patients increased, Mutia and Persada knew that they needed to educate more people about the disease. Although the community remains a top priority, raising awareness about breast cancer has become even more crucial. “Yayasan Dara Indonesia’s main missions are to give assistance and mental support to breast cancer patients during and after therapies and to raise awareness as well as educate women in general of the importance of early detection,” Mutia claims.

SADARI Campaign

SADARI Campaign

For that reason, Lovepink is working on a campaign called SADARI (checking one’s own breasts for cancer). “SADARI (Periksa Payudara Sendiri) is a way of familiarizing yourself with your breasts and in order to notice any changes that may occur. It is recommended to get in the habit of doing monthly self-exams starting at age 20. Therefore, there will be fewer women diagnosed with advanced breast cancer stages,” elaborates Hutasoit.

To further promote the campaign, Lovepink has recently launched an application called Lovepink Breasties, which can be downloaded for free, to remind people of performing SADARI each month. It is currently available on Android, but Lovepink plans to launch the iOS version before the end of January.

Notwithstanding the fact that breast cancer is commonly associated with women, the disease refuses to discriminate. People, regardless of their age, health condition, and sex, might stand a chance of getting breast cancer. Yes, even men are susceptible to breast cancer.

That kind of knowledge is important, especially when in Indonesia the growth of cancer patients tends to be faster than that of the availability of doctors and facilities. The government has demonstrated efforts to help fight cancer, but much still needs to be done. “The government has issued BPJS which covers chemotherapy and some cancer medications. But unfortunately a lot still needs to be attended to in that issue,” Mutia laments.

That being said, Lovepink remains optimistic in their endeavours to provide support for warriors and survivors, and also educating people about breast cancer and early detection. “Our goals are to have all women across the country educated about breast health and understand the importance of doing SADARI as part of their lifestyles, because early detection can save lives,” says Mutia.

As for Lovepink members, they continue to empower one another even when the odds might be against them. As Hutasoit reflects, “I learned that when you don’t have a choice, you can do anything! It becomes your mission to live and persevere.”

For more information on donations, volunteer programmes or a chance of partaking in Lovepink’s activities, please visit their website at www.lovepinkindonesia.org

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Caranissa is an editor at Indonesia Expat. She occassionally writes, dances and performs on stage.