Nearly 700 women to take part in Lavasa Women's Drive

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Times of India: Around 700 women from Pune will participate in the fifth edition of Lavasa Women’s Drive scheduled on February 24.

The participants attended a briefing session on Tuesday as part of the Lavasa Women’s Drive (LWD) – the country’s biggest women’s car rally, as certified by the Limca Book of Records. The rally aims to create cancer awareness among participants.

The briefing session was attended by doctors, including Shona Nag, consultant at Sahyadri and Jehangir hospitals; gynaecologist Suchita Pate of Oyster and Pearl Hospital and Mumbai-based gynaecologist Mukesh Gupta. They held a panel discussion on the causes of cancer among women and how preventive measures can go a long way in early detection and cure. The discussion was followed by an interactive session with the participants where the doctors answered questions related to cancer.

Also, present at the session were choreographer Sandeep Soparkar; Devika Bhojwani, vice president, women’s cancer initiative, Tata memorial hospital, and Anuradha Paraskar, senior vice president, marketing and sales, Lavasa Corporation Limited, among others.

Nag said breast cancer in India was becoming common and it was not something that can be swept under the carpet. “Breast cancer, if detected during the early stages, can be cured,” said Nag, advising women to learn how to undertake a breast self-exam after the age of 20.

Pate said cervical cancer as well as breast cancer were preventable and can be detected quite early. “Both cervical cancer and breast cancer can be prevented through awareness, screening and vaccinations. Also, it is advisable to get a yearly pap smear done to detect cervical cancer, apart from opting for vaccination for preventive measures,” said Pate.

Gupta said both forms of cancers have preventive strategies, including primary prevention, secondary prevention and tertiary prevention. “Primary prevention may include taking vaccines to prevent cervical cancer and modifying lifestyle. Cervical cancer is the only cancer that has vaccines to prevent it. Secondary prevention includes breast self-exam, pap smear for cervical cancer and mammography for the early detection of breast cancer,” said Gupta.

The women in the audience put up relevant questions before the panelists, including what age can one opt for vaccines to prevent cervical cancer, symptoms of breast as well as cervical cancers, frequency with which pap smears should be done, if heredity is a cause in developing breast cancer and the like. “The key to escape cancer is to have a moderate lifestyle, limit alcohol to once a week, avoid junk food, stick to a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Eat lots of fresh, uncooked vegetables and fruits, especially red and orange vegetables to escape the malady. Turmeric too has anti-cancer properties,” added Nag.

Soparkar said women today need to take care of themselves and go for cancer tests to escape the malady. “My father had cancer and the 1970s did not have any anti-cancer drives to keep people informed. It was a very difficult phase for the entire family. However, with programmes such as this, things have changed. Women should, therefore, take care of their personal health and learn from these drives,” he said.

“Response to the 5th edition of Lavasa Women’s Drive has been overwhelming. Last year, participants garnered 7.5 lakh votes online from acquaintances to get selected for the drive. This year, a record 15 lakh votes were received by participants from people based in 85 countries. Sangeeta Agarwal from Pune gathered 1,25,000 votes – the maximum votes,” said Paraskar.

Bhojwani said, “What makes us even happier is the fact that besides having fun, so many women came together to support the cause and help spread the message of the importance of early detection, which could save so many lives.”

The rally will start off from VITS Hotel, Balewadi, on February 24, with the first car leaving at 9 am.

Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) later briefed the participants on rules and regulations of the rally, such as driving in the middle or extreme left lane on the expressway, keeping a safe distance from the cars ahead, turning on headlights/taillights while passing through tunnels and remembering to turn them off after exit and the like. They were shown the ‘start venue layout plan’, pre-event scrutiny details, and directional clues, called ‘Tulips’, among other things.

LWD is an initiative of Lavasa Corporation Ltd in association with The Times of India. Co-sponsored by Riso rice bran oil. Other partners include Kotak Mahindra Bank, MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd, The Four Fountains Spa and Sahara Q Shop. This drive is conducted by WIAA, supported by Women’s Cancer Initiative, Tata memorial hospital. This is an initiative of the Times Red Cell.

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