Government of Montserrat

Ministry of Health and Caribscan Team up for Breast Cancer Awareness Forum and Walk

Atttendees at the Breast Cancer Awareness Forum

BRADES, Montserrat (November 22, 2010) – The overwhelming response to the recently held Breast Cancer Awareness Forum and Walk proves what partnership between the private sector and government can accomplish.
Over two hundred and fifty persons turned out in support to the two events sponsored by Caribscan, an imaging company founded by Sonographer and Mammographer, Sonia Charles in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Montserrat.

An impressive lineup of professionals and individuals whose lives have been touched by breast cancer addressed an attentive audience gathered at the Look-Out Community Centre on Friday evening. Presenters included Epidemiologist in the Ministry of Health, Ms. Dorothea Hazel; Dr. Lowell Lewis (surgeon); Dr. E. Samuel Consultant Radiologist of the Belmont Clinic in Antigua;; Dr. Kassim, (physician); Family Life Counselor, Mr. Eugene Skerritt; Mrs. Lauretta Daley a Massage Therapist ; Bernadine Collins, a survivor and Catherine Rodriguez, the daughter of a victim of breast cancer. Practical sessions were done by Mr. Kenton Weekes, Physiotherapist at the Glendon Hospital and Nurse Linda Dias of the Mental Health Department.

Dr. Lowell Lewis Addressing BCA Forum

Topics dealt with were Breast Cancer on Montserrat, Breast Cancer Surgery, Enhancing Relationships, Symptomatic Breast Services, Breast Imaging and Support. Of particular concern was the revelation that over the past ten years, fifteen persons, one of them a male had been diagnosed as having breast cancer. The statistics were a bit worrying since of that number eight (8) representing 53% had lost their fight with the dreaded disease.

Ms. Charles shared information about the Breast Cancer Fund being set up to benefit women. The funds raised during the walkathon and in events in the future are to be that Fund. Women will be assisted to enable them to access free mammograms at the Belmont Clinic in Antigua, in the absence of that service being available on Montserrat. She also revealed that a BCA Foundation is to be set up shortly to manage the funds, but in the meantime the funds will be managed by the Guild of St. Luke.

Dr. E Samuel, Consultant Radiologist at Belmont Clinic Antigua

On display were a range of products including prosthesis and wigs along with material relating to breast cancer screening and the book Choices. A range of Sea Island Cotton products specially made for the occasion by Mrs. Bernadette Francis were available for sale.

The Pink Ribbon Walk was the first of its kind on island. T- shirt clad individuals – men, women, youth and children took to the streets starting from different points along the route – the Community Centre at Look Out, Glendon Hospital in Sweeneys, Carrs Bay Junction and MS Osborne. They made their way to the Lyme in Brades displaying their colours – (fuschia) pink, black and white T-shirts enhanced by glowing bracelets, pendants and necklaces. The Lyme was transformed with the brightly coloured banner, pink balloons and display table into a festive atmosphere.
Walkers were rewarded with an attractive medal from Caribscan which was conferred upon them by Minister of Health, Hon Colin Riley assisted by Bernadine Collins and Catherine Rodriguez at the Lyme in Brades.

Walkers Gathered at the Lyme

Sonia Charles applauded those persons who turned out to walk, those who submitted walk-a-thon sheets, those who supported in any way and those who made donations. She reminded persons particularly women between the ages of 37 and 70 to get screened early, since early detection can save lives. She again invited them to register for the fund. This invitation was first extended a year ago during the activities for Breast Cancer Awareness month 2009.

To date there are about one hundred and twenty (120) women registered and funds for about twenty three (23) mammograms. To register to access the fund women are asked to call 496-5753. Ms Charles also revealed that another fund raising activity is planned for the Montserrat community living in the UK later this year.
Minister Riley thanked Ms Charles for “her deep interest in making sure that the imaging technology available to the hospital is as good as any place else in the world”. He thanked her for her contribution to live healthy lifestyle and expressed deep appreciation to her “for setting high standards and for making sure that those who have to make responsible about financing and policy are supportive of what she is doing.”