In a step to promote the wellbeing of women living with breast cancer in Qatar, the American Women’s Association of Qatar (AWAQ) recently donated a silk painting, which represents the unity between women with breast cancer, their supporters and those trying to raise awareness about breast cancer prevention, to the Breast Unit at Hamad General Hospital (HGH)
Presented by AWAQ representatives to the multi-disciplinary team at the Breast Unit, the painting builds on the success of the ongoing Heart Pillow Project, which was established between Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and AWAQ last year to provide practical support to patients recovering from breast cancer surgery.
The painting is an amalgamation of the creativity of many different women who created the finished product at an AWAQ coffee morning. It contains the long-established, international symbol of the pink ribbon, which represents the importance of breast cancer awareness, coupled with ladies in pink abayas, representing local traditional dress. The heart-shaped lips of the women in the painting represent the Heart Pillow Project.
The painting will adorn one of the walls in the Breast Unit, which was established in HGH to provide a dedicated space to women with breast cancer, ensuring they are able to receive the best possible care with greater privacy and dignity. The clinics within the unit provide specialist services and dedicated support to women from the point of diagnosis, to treatment and beyond.
Advanced Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Breast Unit, Ms. Cathie McKirdy noted: “Dealing with breast cancer is extremely difficult and patients often experience conflicting emotions where they tend to give in to the negative thoughts, resulting in a loss of self-esteem. We recognize that in addition to medical treatment, patients require psychological and emotional support. Therefore, at the Breast Unit in HGH, we are always trying to find better ways to improve our patients’ quality of life, uplift their spirits and helping them live with confidence.”
“The commitment to enhance the patient experience is also evident through the role of the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) within the Breast Unit. The CNS in breast cancer care ensures that patients feel well-supported throughout their time at the hospital. They act as patients’ advocates, as well as educating them about their treatment journey so they are able to make informed decisions,” Ms. McKirdy added.
Coordinator for the Heart Pillow Project from AWAQ, Ms. Barbara Phillips, commented: “Breast cancer treatment is difficult and you can end up feeling very alone. Recovering from surgery can be hard, however, receiving a small gift in those times and realizing that someone else has thought of you for just a moment certainly makes one a little happier, and a little more comfortable. The feedback we have received from patients as well as HMC’s cancer care staff confirms that patients are very touched by the heart pillows and they help them feel special.”
Senior Consultant and Breast Surgeon at the Breast Unit in HGH, Dr. Ambika Anand stated: “The support from AWAQ has been very strong in terms of providing the quality of post-operative care to breast cancer patients. We are delighted to work collaboratively with them to make sure that our patients feel they have access to the safest, most effective and most compassionate care. The level of breast cancer care provided to patients at HMC is on par with international standards and incorporates evidence-based best practices.”
Under this project, as many as 300 patients have been provided with a tote bag, a hand-sewn heart-shaped pillow, which can be placed under the arm for comfort post-surgery, an assortment of toiletries such as shampoos, shower gels, body lotions and dental kits, in addition to a personalized gift card wishing the patients love and hope.
Moreover, AWAQ also provides funds to women who are unable to afford the costs of breast prostheses. The association is also working with the new Palliative Care Unit at HMC’s National Center for Cancer Care and Research, where they have assisted in hand painting stencils in the new rooms, the halls and the corridors as well as donating toiletries for the families who are there with an end of life patient.