The thought of having breast cancer, the expense that it presents, the surgical operations, the excessive and sometimes harsh treatments, and its overall effect on a person’s mind, body and spirit is an experience that only a survivor and his or her family can tell.
Recognizing that beating the disease takes much strength and effort, The Cancer Center of The Bahamas held a Pink Ribbon event on Tuesday night for survivors, supporters, and those who are still battling the disease with chemotherapy, radiation or no treatment at all.
Tuesday’s pink ribbon event marked the end of breast cancer awareness month, which was celebrated throughout the month of October. The intimate event featured a balloon drop and pop, where cancer survivors were asked to pop pink balloons to signify that they never want the disease to return.
Fifteen-year-old Chasey Cargill presented a cancer painting to the facility and three persons won a cruise and dine experience.
Guests also got the opportunity to tour the Cancer Centre Bahamas – the only facility that offers radiation therapy to cancer patients – whether they are receiving it privately or though the public hospital system.
Medical Oncology Consultant at The Cancer Centre Bahamas, Dr. Nevein Girgis said Tuesday’s event was an opportunity for the Centre to “give back” to cancer survivors and patients. She revealed that the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer in The Bahamas is not only high, but it is found that once diagnosed, the cancer is very aggressive.
Dr. Girgis said the Cancer Center is therefore looking at more initiatives to assist women with treatment and follow-up measures. She also advised young women to educate themselves about the disease and carry out self-breast exams.
“Mammograms save a lot of lives when we catch the cancer at stage 1 or 2,” Dr. Girgis said. “The outcome is completely different with the late stages, so the earlier we can catch it, the better, but the only way we can catch it is with the mammogram.”
President of the Sister-Sister breast cancer support group, Andrea Sweeting advised persons who are presently undergoing cancer treatment to “press on”. She said despite the negative talk that exists about chemotherapy and radiation, it is still the best option to treat cancer.
“Yes, chemotherapy, it is a proven treatment and I can tell you it is proven for me,
so I would tell you to do it. Even for radiation, it is not as bad as we make it out to be and I think chemotherapy does worst things than radiation would do, but I would tell you that whatever the treatments are, please do it. It is only six or eight months out of your life and you have a brand new life all over again, so trust God and trust your doctors and you will do well.”
Catherine Theresias is a former chemo nurse who recently opened nightingale nursing. Her homecare facility caters to persons managing the side effects of cancer treatment.
“We teach persons how to manage the side effects of chemotherapy, how to exercise, and how to prepare meals because it is the side effects of chemotherapy that is really crippling for most of our cancer patients. It is also to give support and resources to them,” Theresias said.
The Nightingale Nursing facility has been assisting persons without insurance in need of mammograms during the month of October, but Theresias said the initiative will continue as funds are still available. They will also host a dine and cruise event for survivors on December 2.
“We will select about five breast cancer survivor women and about five women who would have done mammograms through my initiative and we are going to have a boat cruise around Nassau Harbour. We will dock at Margaritaville and have a private reception free of cost,” Theresias said