‘Get screened early’

A mammogram can detect a lump as small as a pinhead. And so, the Jamaica Cancer Society is encouraging women to get screened before pinheads develop into marbles, oranges, grapefruits and become untreatable.

“Our mandate is to create awareness, educate Jamaicans and show whole lifestyle affects cancer. We not only educate and create awareness, but the Jamaica Cancer Society is involved in screaming because we believe that early detection can save your life. If you know early, it can add some years to your life. So, we embark on a screening programme where we scream for me to cancers; breast cancer, prostate cancer. Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancers in the world right now,” Michael Leslie, acting executive director of the Jamaica Cancer Society, said during a Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.

The Jamaica Cancer Society was named as the beneficiary of the ATL Industrial Group All That’s Good Charity 5K Walk-Run race, which takes place on Sunday, May 21. The event commences at 6:00 am at the AC Hotel Kingston.

Leslie said it is his hope that the event, which targets 1,000 participants, will bring more awareness around cancers, especially breast cancer, and urged more women to get mammograms done by the time they reach age 40.

“In 2020, we have 1,200 women diagnosed with breast cancer in Jamaica. Alarming figures. As a Cancer Society, we think that if we have a system in place for screening, we can detect this thing very early,” he said.

“Our main message is get screened. Get screened early. The Jamaica Cancer Society endorses this run not only because it gives us funds to assist the programme but [it] also gives and creates the awareness among Jamaican men and Jamaican women about lifestyle changes,” Leslie continued.

According to the Jamaica Cancer Registry at The University of the West Indies (UWI), a total of 7,348 cancers were recorded in Jamaica as of 2018 — 3,495 in males and 3,853 in females. Cancer of the prostate, breast, colon, lung, and cervix uteri were the five most prevalent cancers in the country.

Leslie said the services offered by the non-profit organisation amount to over $100 million per year, and called for more financial assistance from more organisations.

“We need support. We start at $0 each year. Having the ATL Group on board, I applaud the management for the initiative and thinking about having us as the beneficiary. We applaud the ATL Group for what they are doing in the cause against cancer and the fight against cancer,” Leslie told the Observer.

The Ministry of Health, he added, provides invaluable support with cancer screening through the National Health Fund (NHF). Leslie said the ministry pays for women who can’t afford screening.

“We are partners. Currently, there is a MOU in place which allows us to screen men and women for pap smear and mammograms through the NHF. So, we do have support from the ministry in that regard.”

He noted that the ministry is also actively involved in the ‘Relay For Life’ fund-raiser — an event that reaches into the community to bring together neighbours, friends, work associates and families to celebrate those who have survived cancer and to remember those who have not.

The Relay For Life concept involves a team of walkers/runners competing against each other to raise the most money and to stay all night at the event. The event is a relay that lasts for an extended period of time – an overnight event of 12-15 hours…because “cancer never sleeps” .