WITH its mobile mammography unit out of service, the Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) has forged partnerships with private radiology centres across the country to transport women from underserved communities to those centres for their mammography screenings, and pay for them.
“The society provided small grants totalling $4 million in 2018 to vulnerable and underserved individuals to access cancer treatment,” Yulit Gordon, executive director of the Jamaica Cancer Society, revealed.
Gordon was one of eight panellists at a think tank session organised by the JN Group, under its Power of Pink initiative, in observance of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The forum, which was held at JN Financial Services Centre in New Kingston on September 26, was the first of a three-part series of conversations entitled: Beyond Breast Cancer. She pointed out that an estimated one in 21 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Jamaican women.
“The Jamaica Cancer Society remains focused on primary and secondary prevention. We continue to stress the importance of monthly breast self-examination; clinical examinations; and annual mammograms, as key strategies to detect breast cancer in its early stages,” she said. High on the agenda of the JCS is lobbying the Government to enforce tobacco regulations and enact comprehensive tobacco legislation, to address tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship.
“Through sustained education, we continue to influence the health-seeking behaviours of our population, stressing the importance of physical activity, eating healthy meals, abstaining from smoking and harmful use of alcohol,” Gordon said. The executive director disclosed that significant progress has been made in cancer research to identify the risk factors that promote the development of cancer.
“There are new and improved treatment options with more new drugs being placed in clinical trials. However, despite the significant progress made, cancer remains a major health challenge.
“We need to place greater emphasis on cancer survivorship and quality of life. We need to establish more support groups, like the Jamaica Reach to Recovery, and in more recent times, the Brothers United against Prostate Cancer, for those faced with cancer, so that they can access the emotional, psychological and spiritual help in battling the disease,” she appealed.
Other members participating in the discussion included: Kamala McWhinney, a psychologist and survivor; Dr Andre Williams, integrative oncologist; Dr Beverly Wright, director, Health Systems Support and Monitoring Unit, Ministry of Health and Wellness; Carolind Graham, chairman, Jamaica Reach for Recovery; Senator Dr Saphire Longmore, consultant psychiatrist and survivor; Janice Robinson Longmore, chief operations, JN Bank; and Dr Damian Ffriend, senior manager, JN Life Insurance Company.
The Power of Pink initiative is now in its second year. Besides supporting the Jamaica Cancer Society, it is geared at creating more awareness about the importance of early detection, empowering survivors, as well as paying homage to those who have lost the battle with breast cancer.