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Saudi Woman Doctor Joins First Lady Laura Bush in Highlighting Breast Cancer Global Awareness

Speakers at the October 7, 2008 Symposium on Breast Cancer Global Awareness.

Caption: Speakers at the October 7, 2008 Symposium on Breast Cancer Global Awareness
(Left to Right), Top Row: 1) Dr. Maira Caleffi, President, Breast Institute of Rio Grande do Sul (IMAMA), Porto Alegre, Brazil; 2) Marc Hurlbert, Ph.D., Director, Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade; 3) Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, Chief of Protocol, Department of State; 4) Funda Meric-Bernstam, M.D., Associate Professor of Surgical Oncology University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Bottom Row: 1) Hala Moddelmog, President and Chief Executive Officer, Susan G. Komen for the Cure; 2) Anita McBride, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady White House Office of Mrs. Bush; 3) Dr. Samia Al-Amoudi, Consultant Obstetrician Gynecologist and Assistant, Professor King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah.


October 7, 2008 was a historic day in Washington, D.C. First Lady Laura Bush illuminated the White House pink for the first time ever in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Also on this day, the Office of International Women's Issues had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Samia Al-Amoudi as an honored guest speaker at a Symposium on Breast Cancer Global Awareness that was hosted by the Office of the Chief of Protocol at the Blair House. 

The Symposium provided an opportunity to highlight breast cancer – one of the most critical health issues impacting women around the globe. When asked her thoughts about the symposium at the Blair House, Dr. Al-Amoudi replied, "Very inspiring! The people were happy to hear about different stories, which show that [breast cancer] is a human issue and women are the same. It gives you the feeling that you are not alone."

The focus of the Symposium was to highlight past accomplishments, current efforts underway, and the many challenges that still lie ahead in the field of breast cancer. In addition to Dr. Al-Amoudi, panelists included Dr. Maira Caleffi, President, Breast Institute of Rio Grande do Sul (IMAMA), Porto Alegre, Brazil; Marc Hurlbert, Ph.D., Director, Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade; Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, Chief of Protocol; Funda Meric-Bernstam, M.D., Associate Professor of Surgical Oncology University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center; Hala Moddelmog, President and Chief Executive Officer, Susan G. Komen for the Cure; and Anita McBride, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady White House Office of Mrs. Bush. Additionally, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, Paula J. Dobriansky delivered remarks and a call to action to all foreign Ambassadors across the globe to take action to raise awareness of breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

Following the Symposium, the First Lady addressed breast cancer survivors, advocates, and members of the diplomatic corps before flipping a switch to light the White House pink, the color of the cause. In her remarks, she described Dr. Al-Amoudi as “living proof of a survivor’s power to speak out and save lives.”

Dr. Al-Amoudi, a 2007 recipient of the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award, has broken the silence among men and women in Saudi Arabia as one of the first Saudi women to share her experience with the disease. Her strength and perseverance in voicing her experiences gives hope to women not only across the Middle Eastern region, but also around the world. "We women can do what other women have failed to do in the Arab world by coming together. This issue brings people and countries together," says Dr. Al-Amoudi. With endless inspiration from her 11 year old daughter, Dr. Al-Amoudi shares her story through public lectures around the world, newspapers, television interviews and in her book "Breast Cancer Survivors in Saudi Arabia."

First Lady Laura Bush stands outside of the White House during a breast cancer awareness ceremony, Oct. 7, 2008. White House photo by Chris Greenberg

Caption: Mrs. Laura Bush applauds after pushing the button to flood the north front of the White House with a sea of pink, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, on Oct. 7, 2008. The First Lady has encouraged worldwide efforts in preventing and curing a disease that is the leading cause of death in women. Each year more than 1.2 million people worldwide are diagnosed with breast cancer. The United States is working with countries in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas to empower women to take control of their health, raise awareness about the importance of prevention and early diagnosis, and support collaborative research to find a breast cancer cure. White House photo by Chris Greenberg


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