Alumni of the Month  |  2019-02
February 28, 2019

Pink Steps Towards a Future Without Breast Cancer

Fulbright Foreign Student alumna Nataly Naser Al Deen is leading the way towards a future without breast cancer. While pursuing her master’s degree in Tumor Biology/Cancer Research as a Fulbright student at Georgetown University in Washington, DC in 2015, Nataly was inspired by public health grassroots initiatives in the United States led by Dr. Priscilla A. Furth. When she returned home to Lebanon, Naser Al Deen founded “Pink Steps,” an NGO which promotes physical and mental health and healthy lifestyles for breast cancer survivors in Lebanon.

“While pursuing cancer research at Georgetown, my first cousin, Norma, got diagnosed with stage III breast cancer at the age of 31. When I came back home, and as I was sitting through Norma’s chemotherapy cycles, I saw how resilient and brave she was. However, I felt her need for a change; a positive and motivational one.”

Pink Steps is designed to increase the fitness level in survivors through daily walks (10,000 steps/day) performed at home or work, which are monitored through pedometers provided to them by the project.  They also provide nutritionists who offer dietary advice, hold support groups, and host stress-relief sessions.  To create this project, Naser Al Deen received a Fulbright Alumni Community Action Grant, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  Naser Al Deen's commitment to community service and her clear vision turned what was initially a short-term grant program into a well-established and successful NGO. 

The experience of being a Fulbright student, a MEPI-TL and YES program alumna has also led her to continue serving her community in many ways. In addition to running Pink Steps and pursuing her Ph.D. studies at the American University of Beirut in Cell and Molecular Biology, Naser Al Deen is an active member of her alumni networks. Naser Al Deen has organized volunteer opportunities for her alumni network peers and often volunteers to participate in her alumni peers’ initiatives. 

In October of 2018, Pink Steps was invited by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health to take part in a three-day awareness event for breast cancer. Naser Al Deen led her Pink Steps members to assemble an informational booth, which won 1st place for its accessible and thorough content, as voted by event participants and the Ministry of Health.

“I will commit my career to cancer research and cancer prevention and dream of expanding Pink Steps to include other Arab countries,” says Nataly.