EDITORIAL: Breast cancer awareness growing
It was heart-warming to see thousands of Barbadians braving the blazing sun last Sunday evening to participate in the CIBC FirstCaribbean Walk For The Cure.
A sea of pink-clad supporters, men and women, young and old, took the 5K route from the Garrison and back by storm, supporting the cause of breast cancer awareness.
Coordinator of the walk, Monique Hinds, said there was such overwhelming support that the Barbados Cancer Society had run out of shirts well before the event. She said they anticipated they had sold around 5 000 shirts this year. Last year, 2 700 people took part.
It was good news to see that so many had paused for a good cause, and one that touches so many people. Chances are, even if we ourselves have never been faced with such a grim diagnosis, we know someone who has been.
Breast cancer affects more than 1.7 million people in the world. In Barbados, the message that “early detection is the best prevention” continues to be pushed across the island.
Just last year, Dr Shirley Hanoman-Jhagroo, who has been associated with the breast screening programme in Barbados, reported that more women under 40 years old and, significantly, women in their late 20s, were being diagnosed with breast cancer. She said the highest incidence of the disease remained among women in the 50-65 age group.
But even with the tremendous support for the cause, and with many opting to wear pink from the start of October – Breast Cancer Month – much more needs to be done if we are to raise the awareness and fight harder to save lives.
We commend the efforts of the Cancer Society in pushing the importance of early testing, but we need to take it a step further because the message is still falling on some deaf ears.
There are still some women, especially those over 40, who are not regularly going for mammogram tests. There are some, even with a history of cancer in their families, who have not yet taken the test. We encourage women to do so.
Early detection can increase the chances of survival. There are many avenues open to women to have their tests done – whether it is at a private doctor, clinics or the Cancer Society itself.
Men, too, have been paying more attention to breast cancer education. Dr Jhagroo had reported last year that less than one per cent of men had been diagnosed with this type of cancer.
While we continue to wear pink this month in support of the cause, let us all continue past October to raise awareness of breast cancer.
Women should heed the call for early detection; after all, it is still the best protection.