A healthworker in rural Pakistan
Helping Dr Lodhi to spread the word
Dr Lodhi's farewell from her London posting
"Pakistan leads South Asia in the incidence of breast cancer and 83 per cent of all such cases are in the third stage"
In April 2006, as Patron of Breast Cancer Care, Cherie was invited to visit Pakistan by Mrs Musharraf, the wife of the then President, in order to help raise awareness about women's health and the importance of early diagnosis of breast cancer.
Pakistan has one of the highest rates of death from breast cancer in the world, and Cherie used her visit, through field trips and interviews with local media, to spread the word about breast cancer detection among women who are usually unaware of the changes in their bodies that could alert them to cancer. She was accompanied by Dr Maleeha Lodhi, then Pakistani High Commissioner in London, who is also a passionate campaigner for breast cancer awareness in Pakistan.
"Twenty years ago I lost an aunt to whom I was very close to breast cancer, because she ignored the symptoms for too long, and I've been a committed campaigner ever since. In those days, there was still not much awareness and people tended to keep such news to themselves. Although much has changed now, we must still concentrate on those areas within our own country and in various parts of the world where there is very little awareness. In places like Pakistan, women are usually too busy taking care of their families. So we spent time telling them how important it is for them to look after themselves first if they want to take care of their children, and that they must go for regular check-ups.
There are taboos and fears too that hold women back from seeking help. Sometimes just by going to these places and showing your face and talking about women's issues, you are, hopefully, at least giving some sort of encouragement to those who are pushing those issues, and making people who are against those issues face up to the realities." Cherie Blair
BBC World Television News accompanied Cherie to Pakistan.
Click here to see the film
Click here for more about Breast Cancer Care
Click here for the more about the Pink Ribbon campaign in Pakistan
Click here for local media coverage of the visit
Click here for coverage in the Saturday Times Magazine