Breast Cancer Awareness Month: With a Difference
Cancer knows no colour, class, or creed. It affects everyone, those who can afford it and those who can't. And those who can't turn to the Dominica Cancer Society (DCS) who in turn pleads with the public for help.
"Sometimes we receive an application every week. So if you do the math, four by 12 you get 48. So we may assist anywhere between 40 and 50 people in one year." President of the Dominica Cancer Society, Yvonne Alexander, told The Sun.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the DCS is known for its flagship fundraiser, the Walk for Cancer Cure. Last year, it was a Drive for Cancer Cure thanks to the pandemic. This year the events will not take place due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.
"The situation is a little more fluid and a little more risky. The number of cases we have, the quick spread and all of that so they [Ministry of Health] thought it's not a safe time to even do a drive," Alexander said.
The public is being urged to purchase t-shirts, which were already printed for the event, from the DCS office in Goodwill. Broaches are also being sold to help with fundraising efforts.
"We pay out sometimes over $100, 000 dollars in assistance. We try to limit the amount we can give to anyone person to $5,000 dollars. In the financial year 2019/2020 we paid out over $127, 000 in assisting people. And the last financial year 2020-2021 we paid out about $144, 000," she said.
It's not a case of the cost of treatment going up, it is a case of the number of people approaching the DCS requesting help is increasing which is of major concern as a growing number of young people is being diagnosed.
The government's annual subvention is $30, 000 but this is not enough to help the scores of people seeking aid.
The aim of the Society is to not turn anyone away. Alexander firmly believes no one with a cancer diagnosis should go untreated because they lack funds for chemotherapy and treatment.
Despite no 'Drive in Hope of Cancer Cure', as it was dubbed, the awareness will go on as planned.
"We're doing the public awareness through radio discussions, television, information on our Facebook page and so on. One of the main educational activities will be a panel discussion with people like Dr. Martin who works at the oncology clinic," she said.
Representatives from Medicus, Jolly's Pharmacy and the community of survivors will also participate.
The other highlight of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is Pink Day carded for Wednesday 13th October.
"We are asking the general public to assist us, join us in raising awareness by wearing pink and probably wearing something that depicts breast cancer, for instance, a pink ribbon," Alexander said.
The DCS office is also selling masks with pink ribbons to support the cause. A fundraising raffle will be held at the end of the month. You may be thinking: 'Wow! that's a lot of fundraising!'. It really is a gargantuan task but they have no choice.
"The fact is one of the mandates that we have is assisting people financially to meet the cost of treatment and we do so through our fundraising. Because we have not been able to have the drive, we decided to have a fundraising raffle," she said
Once again a special appeal is being made to men to take their health seriously.
"We do have cases in Dominica of a few men, a small percentage in comparison to women, who have been diagnosed with breast cancer," Alexander said.
The DCS remains a beacon of hope, help, and support for those diagnosed with cancer. The public is being urged to get screened as early detection saves lives.