Six years ago, the Lithuanian rate of deaths caused by breast cancer was the highest in Europe.
DO NOT DELAY, a breast cancer awareness program, was initiated by Agnė Zuokienė in 2003. Today, the number of deaths is significantly lower.
The Do Not Delay team includes professional doctors – specialists of their field who face breast cancer cases on a daily basis.
The Pink Bus travels to the most remote locations in Lithuania to deliver the message to all women – “Take care of your health, pay more attention to yourselves for your own sake and for the sake of those who love you!”
The bus has already visited as many as 445 cities and towns in Lithuania, examining 43,567 women for breast cancer with the help of special equipment. Every fifth woman was diagnosed with benign breast tumours and 473 were found to have breast cancer. Unfortunately, majority of these women had not had a breast examination before.
Public company Azzara managed by Ms. Agnė Zuokienė is running the project together with partners – Advertising company Kredo R and Vilnius University Oncology Institute.
The certificates No. 56007 and 56008 issued by State Patent Bureau of the Republic of Lithuania certifies that the company owns an exclusive right to the trademark “Rožinis kaspinas” (Pink Ribbon) and it visual appearance in pink and white colours.
Disaster and happiness unite people
Race for cure are festivals involving those whose loved ones had been affected by the disease and those who have triumphed over it, as well as those supporting people who are still fighting. The ace is an hour of jog or walk in the memory of those who have succumbed to cancer and for the life of those who have overcome it. Marathons have been held for 60 times already. A total of 14,139 participants have taken part in the marathons.
One of the goals of the project is not only to educate but to also rally women in societies. In the framework of the project Let My Town Bloom, 2,320 blooming flowerbeds were distributed among women. The happy women started blooming along with their towns. Women in small towns participated in the competition Let My Town Bloom with great enthusiasm. The campaign was held in cooperation with embassy of Austria.
Photographer Eglė Mėlinauskienė who is fighting breast cancer took pictures of women of the same fate. The photograph exhibition A Moment organized by Do Not Delay has traveled 76 halls and charmed crowds of people. The exhibition has been registered in the Lithuanian Book of Records as an exhibition that has visited the biggest number of halls in Lithuania.
Celebration of the Mother’s Day has already become a beautiful tradition of Do Not Delay. Every year, school students present their mothers with a letter from Do Not Delay, which is a unique way to approach a woman through her child, and the call sounds persuasive and personal as never before. A total of 60,000 letters have been circulated so far.
Also on Mother’s Day, scores of children decorate their mothers with a pink ribbon of Do Not Delay. It is a subtle way of reminding the closest person in the world of the threat of the disease and the possibility to prevent it. A total of 50,000 pink ribbons have been circulated so far.
Origami cranes – an Oriental symbol of hope – are made in libraries and communities across Lithuania. This is made in preparation for community evenings and lectures about prevention of breast cancer.
Two books containing stories told by courageous cured breast cancer patients have been published – A Miracle Lies Somewhere Close to Despair. In the books, women of various age tell their sensitive, sincere and open stories about their experience – what they felt after hearing the diagnosis, the course of treatment and the changes the disease made in their lives. Based on these books, the Children’s Theater Studio created a remarkable play, which was later screened and repeatedly shown on TV.
The international Pink Light Project takes place in Vilnius and another 20 cities in Lithuania every year. Buildings illuminated in spectacular pink light remind those who are already aware and encourage those unaware to take interest in the symbolic meaning of pink – solidarity with victims of breast cancer.
The project is assisted by 200 ambassadors of good will around Lithuania. It is a strong, solid and unified crowd of volunteers: women organize and share information, learn from each other and have become more open and European. Agnė Zuokienė has been awarded a badge of the Volunteer Center for promoting volunteer work.
The first trend of ideas was establishment of mini libraries in hospitals. The bookshelves contained French, English, Swedish and German books. The donation of 58 bookshelves to Vilnius hospitals was initiated. A list of 30 most encouraging books was compiled by a group of 200 experts. It has become a tradition to leave behind books of their own that people read in hospitals so that other could also enjoy them. Another 33 mini libraries were donated to district libraries of Lithuania. They contained books with a word “woman” in their title. Every book about women is a unique and special world. Every bookshelf contained between 30 and 50 books. Most authors come from various European countries. The idea of reading united communities in small towns, transforming libraries into a place for meetings and socializing.
Do Not Delay project is characterized as a low budget – big impact initiative. Enthusiasm of people and attention to sore problems triggers a chain reaction in the society. A change in people’s behavior is a vital step in the efforts to teach Lithuanian people new skills and develop European, open and healthier generations of the future.
Sincerely, Agnė Zuokienė