Walking the catwalk to raise breast cancer awareness


che Uruguay colleagues are not short of ideas when it comes to putting their messages across.

Montevideo’s Mercado Agricola (agricultural market—MAM) was an unusual venue for a high-flying event organized by Roche Pharma teams to spread the word about breast cancer and the importance of early detection and prevention. Yet this is where they organized a fashion show. However, the stars were not glamorous models, nor had they been picked to walk for prestigious clothes designers. They were patients, patient relatives, physicians, public affairs professionals, politicians, journalists and representatives of health authorities with one common goal: increase public awareness about breast cancer. The only compromise to fashion was the elegant, predominantly pink dress code, in line with the purpose it served.

Under the campaign’s main slogan “Conocerte es quererte” (to know yourself is to love yourself), the models carried banners with messages such as “Speak to your doctor, they know what’s best for you”, or “Knowing that I wasn’t alone greatly helped me.” The catwalk had been set up in a way to cross the aisle of the MAM structure, winding through the numerous, colorful fruit and vegetable stands which attract large crowds of shoppers. While moderating the show, a journalist provided facts and figures about breast cancer in the country. One patient model walked hand in hand with her husband, proudly carrying a banner that said: “Fighting together we were stronger.

Doing it their way

MAM dates back to 1903, when five citizens donated land for the construction of a sheltered market worthy of the steadily expanding city of Montevideo. The 5,867 square meter iron structure was originally imported from Europe after serving for a commercial exhibition in Brussels. It opened in 1912 and in 1999 it was declared a National Historic Monument. After renovation, it reopened to the public in the summer of 2013. In addition to the traditional fresh foods on sale at any market, MAM now also offers numerous nonperishable goods including local crafts, as well as an array of cultural activities such as theater.

The emblematic monument has an emotional connotation for Montevideo citizens and was deemed a place of choice to catch the attention of thousands of shoppers and media representatives. Roche’s show took place on one afternoon in October 2013 and the exciting video was on all national wires within hours. It allowed the population to identify with a common cause in an unique mix of surprise, emotion, hope, elegance and memories of the country’s history.

This was not the local team’s first artistic approach to breast cancer activities. In 2011, they organized a musical event featuring young opera singers at Punta Carretas, the city’s biggest shopping mall. In 2012, a theater play, with a breast cancer patient as the main actress, also received high visibility.

Tags: Women's Health, Sustainability, Awareness, Patients