In the month of October, Yusuf Ahmen Bulbulia, better known as Yab, dyes his beard pink to create awareness for breast cancer. We chat to him to find out why he started doing this.
Yusuf Ahmen Bulbulia (Yab) (46) lives in Lenasia, Gauteng with his wife, Amina, and their two children.
In 2001, at the age of 26, Yab noticed a swelling in his right breast. With a few months passing and the swelling not decreasing, Yab’s wife, Amina, encouraged him to see a doctor. “There was also slight pain in my arm with decreased sensation and even though my right breast was firm, it looked huge,” Yab recalls.
A mammogram, which Yab says was uncomfortable, an ultrasound and blood tests were completed at a public hospital. The plan was to be admitted into hospital to do a partial biopsy, however, the whole lump was removed, and further tests were done on the mass.
Thankfully, the results ruled out breast cancer and proved it was a fibroadenoma (a solid, noncancerous breast lump).
Fast forward to 2018
Since Yab lost many family members to cancer, he felt the need to create more awareness, especially for male breast cancer. “Breast cancer is overlooked in the male population, so I saw the need to raise awareness that men can also get breast cancer,” he says.
How did he do this? In October 2018, Yab dyed his beard pink in support of breast cancer awareness month and has continued since.
He hosts an open day at Trade Route Mall, in Lenasia, where pamphlets are handed out. “Thankfully, there are volunteers, who are breast cancer patients or survivors, who support this initiative and assist in handing out brochures and sharing their experience with the public,” Yab says.
Funds are also collected and donated to various cancer organisations, such as The Brave Bag Foundation. Yab also does broadcasts during October on breast care as well as interviews with radio stations to create more awareness.
“My aim is to offer hope and support to people who have suffered and are suffering from cancer as well as those who have passed on. Some people secretly fought cancer while others are battling this disease openly, hoping to be the strength to others. So, I’m trying to do the little I can do.
I remember a man contacted me after reading our brochures. He explained that it was thanks to this info that he went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with breast cancer,” he says.
The process of dying his beard
Yab doesn’t just spray his beard pink. He goes to a hairdresser, Nesha’s Hair Salon in Lenasia South, to get it dyed like how one would normally dye their hair. He says, “I have a lovely hairdresser that supports my initiative and completes a process over four to five hours that dyes my beard pink. I keep the dye on for the whole month of October going into November.”
Yab explains that many breast cancer patients and survivors appreciate his efforts, as it’s coming from a man. “After we have our open day, I get calls from women who went for tests and were diagnosed with breast cancer. They don’t feel alone. Husbands of newly diagnosed spouses visit us to ask how they can be more supportive. Every year we get new volunteers wanting to be part of this because of someone they know that has had cancer.”
Yab’s message to men
Breast cancer doesn’t only affect women but men too. Cancer doesn’t have any boundaries on age, colour or sex. There is nothing to be ashamed about if you have or had breast cancer. Technology is so advanced and with the proper help, the cancer can be slowed or removed completely. So, if you do have any symptoms, kindly check it out.
For more info, visit Yab’s Facebook page @yabsbeardagainstcancer
MEET OUR EDITOR – Laurelle Williams
Laurelle Williams is the editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Write to the firstname.lastname@example.org