26-year-old Jaskeerat Bedi, a Design Strategist from Delhi, plans to cycle 500kms in seven days to create awareness about the relation between obesity and breast cancer.
Jaskeerat’s tryst with cycling began in 2012, during a three month project in Bangalore, and became a part of her lifestyle after she worked in Pune for a few months, where she was surrounded by enthusiastic women cyclists. During a visit to her parents in Delhi she attended an event organised by Forum for Breast Cancer Protection, where she met the NGO’s chairperson, Dr. Sarin.
Jaskeerat says, “On learning that I am a cyclist she was very excited. Dr. Sarin says that obesity and inactivity have increased instances of breast cancer in India, and would prefer that more women opt for the sport because unlike jogging it has low impact on knees.”
Ever since, Jaskeerat was looking for an opportunity to work with the NGO to make women more aware about the risk of breast cancer in obese women.
“Once I decided to participate in MTB Himalaya 2013, I informed Dr. Sarin and also made a presentation explaining the event to the NGO. They will provide us with 2000 pamphlets and MTB will distribute it wherever we halt during the race. At each stop I plan to personally talk to women about the issue.”
Forum for Breast Cancer Protection is over a decade old and has been creating awareness through car rallies, plays and informative sessions on invititation at educational or corporate institutions.
The 70-year-old lady, Dr. Ramesh Sarin, is senior breast cancer surgeon with Apollo Hospital in Delhi.
She explains, “Long periods of uninterrupted estrogen (a hormone) production can lead to breast cancer. Post menopause the ovaries stop producing estrogen, but some of it is also created in fats. As a result, obese women continue to be bombarded by this hormone even after menopause, putting them at a greater risk. Pregnancy interrupts creation of estrogen and breast feeding reduces its levels, but unlike their predecessors, Indian women today don’t find early marriage, early pregnancy and having multiple kids, feasible. The risk ratio has increased from 1:52 to 1:25. We can’t even avoid factors like hereditary, early periods or late menopause, but obesity we can.”
Realising that even educated women are shy about getting screened for breast cancer, the NGO gives out free CDs on self-examination. You can request on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jaskeerat is also enthusiastic about doing this because the past one year of cycling has changed her lifestyle, “It has increased my energy levels, making me want to try out more adventurous things. Some time ago I participated in Enduro, a two day event in Pune, in which we cycled 40 kms, and trekked and did kayaking for another 50kms. I am also aiming at an event from France, called Brevet. It has different levels, 200kms, 400kms and 600kms. If you reach the last level, the company invites you to France.”
The MTB race takes place in Himachal Pradesh, from 27th September to 3rd October.