LOJA, Ecuador – Six breast cancer survivors showed the scars of their mastectomies during a Tuesday flight in Ecuador, with the aim of raising awareness on the importance of monthly self-examination.
Dubbed “Pinktate Flight,” the initiative had six women who walked down the aisle of a plane traveling between the cities of Quito and Loja, to show their “honor scars” adorned with geometric mandalas full of symbolism.
“[The drawings] are something positive and happy, covering their scars of honor with pride, an artistic way of empowering them and making them feel beautiful,” Catalina Chiriboga, executive director of the campaign, told EFE on Tuesday.
At 25,000 feet, the crew announced the start of the event, and survivors took off their clothes to display the designs drawn on their breasts and scars and to teach passengers how to perform a breast self-examination while urging women to do it monthly.
“They carry the message that the monthly self-examination can save lives, that timely detection helps lower mortality rates,” Chiriboga said.
Lourdes Alvarez, one of the participants, explained to reporters accompanying them on the trip that the objective of the initiative was to “sensitize women to the self-examination on the 19th of every month.”
“It doesn’t take us more than 10 minutes to self-examine and thus prevent more deaths, because cancer cannot be prevented, but we can save ourselves by detecting it in time,” she said.
Alvarez stressed the participants wanted to “leave a different mark, that women would remember in these heights that it is important to take care of ourselves, protect ourselves and examine ourselves.”
She said another goal was to encourage women to open up and not be ashamed of this disease.
“We are showing ourselves with our scars and as we are. Despite our pains and our diagnoses, we are fulfilling our dreams, some of our companions are traveling by plane for the first time,” Alvarez added. “We want people to look at us and accept us as we are, to look at cancer as a preventable disease.”
On landing at Catamayo Airport on the outskirts of Loja, the six survivors emerged wearing pink t-shirts alluding to the Pinktate group and waved at the media and the people present before returning to Quito, reaching out to a new set of passengers.
This new initiative by Pinktate, which in August lit the iconic Virgin of El Panecillo statue in pink, in Quito, Ecuador, looks to prevent breast cancer in women.
For its latest initiative, Pinktate collaborated with the Youth against Cancer Foundation and Aeroregional airline.
Approximately 3,000 women died from breast cancer between 2012-2017 according to Public Health Ministry data, while the organization claimed that more than 90 percent could have been saved had the disease been detected on time.
According to the national statistics institute, breast cancer is the 11th major cause of death among women in the country, and of all deaths caused by the disease – which also occurs among men – 99.3 percent were women.