The Jakarta Post
It was two years after lung cancer claimed her husband's life that Ani Noor Isfiani learned that she had breast cancer.
'In May 2014, I was diagnosed with breast cancer stage 2B, which had spread to my lymph nodes,' the mother of three explained. 'The cancer's grade was 3 plus, meaning that it had the highest level of aggression.'
Cancer's stage is measured based on how much the cancer has grown and spread, while its grade defines the features and aggressiveness of the cancer cells.
Ani embarked on an arduous battle ' surgery, chemotherapy six times and 17 herceptin treatments.
Her fight felt much easier after a coworker at the bank she works at introduced her to Lovepink, a support group for breast cancer survivors and warriors ' those who are still actively battling the disease.
'In Lovepink, I can share information about medication and side effects of treatments. Somehow, I don't feel so despondent anymore about my health.'
Lovepink members regularly hold gatherings and training sessions that are valuable for women with breast cancer, covering topics like a healthy diet, yoga and beauty tips.
'My doctor sometimes introduces me to other patients in the hope that I can lend them support. Five of them decided to join Lovepink,' Ani said.
Friends from Lovepink always accompany Ani during treatment when she stays at the hospital.
Even now after tests confirmed that she is free of cancer, Ani wants to give back the profound love to fellow warriors.
'I always try to allocate time to accompany friends who are undergoing treatment,' she said. 'I have felt grief when seeing the health of some Lovepink members deteriorate and they pass away. But death doesn't only befall sick people, right? Healthy people can die, too.'
Lovepink, which has around 400 members in Indonesia, Australia, the US and Switzerland, was founded in 2012 by two best friends and breast cancer survivors, Madelina Mutia and Shanti Persada.
It has grown into a sanctuary for breast cancer survivors and warriors aged in their 20s to 60s, to find friends and support each other.
Lovepink also has a website, lovepinkindonesia.org, and organizes events that not only touch those with breast cancer but also Indonesian women, who mostly are not well informed about the importance of the early detection of breast cancer.
'If breast cancer is detected early, a survivor may not need to undergo invasive treatment [...] and have a higher survival rate,' said Mutia, who was diagnosed with breast cancer stadium 2B in 2010.
Through Pink Talk programs, Mutia, Shanti and breast cancer survivors visit offices and communities to share their stories and encourage women to conduct breast self-examinations, which Lovepink refers to as SADARI ' an abbreviation for Periksa Payudara Sendiri (Check Your Breasts).
This year, Lovepink will launch the Breastie mobile application ' a digital reminder and assistance for women to do the SADARI routine.
'The Breastie App will hopefully reach a wide range of people, who these days depend on gadgets and cell phones in their activities,' Mutia said.
In cooperation with Muara Foundation, Lovepink also introduced the Breastie Van, which provides free health consultation and ultrasonography examination. Mutia said the pink van would stand by at the Lovepink Care Center on Jl. Ahmad Dahlan, South Jakarta, and would be taken on Pink Talk visits.
'Those who sense certain problems can have their breasts checked at the Breastie Van. The Breastie Van can also visit groups, communities or institutions,' said Mutia, adding that those who are interested can contact them at [email protected]
The application and the van will be unveiled during Lovepink's annual fun walk and parade event, Jakarta Goes Pink, on Oct. 4 to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign Month.
In the event, participants are encouraged to wear pink attire in support of breast cancer awareness and walk from the Sudirman area to Plaza Senayan. The event is free of charge and people can register at jakartagoespink.com.
Lovepink expects to attract some 5,000 participants this year. Last year, 4,800 people participated in Jakarta Goes Pink.
'We have given and received tremendous love and support from supporters, warriors and survivors. Walking alongside them is a form of appreciation and a sign that we always walk together under any condition,' Mutia said.
'A fight feels much easier when waged together.'
The upcoming Jakarta Goes Pink will witness the rise of Ani, who was in a wheelchair during last year's event. This time, Ani will proudly walk the route with her family and friends.
'Mutia is planning to display a banner showing my photos titled 'From Wheelchair to High Heels'. However, I haven't had a chance to take a picture of me wearing high heels,' Ani chuckled.
'I hope the event will help more people realize that cancer is a serious disease that should be watched out for.'
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