JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The JDF will be involved in the Jamaica Cancer Society’s (JCS) 5K Run/Walk this Saturday, October 26, under the theme: ‘Battling for a Cure’.
  • Major Spence discovered that a number of soldiers and officers were touched in some way by cancer.
  • Members of the force will exchange their camouflage jackets for pink shirts bearing the message: ‘Battling for a Cure’.

Major Tanya Spence is a woman on a mission to fight breast cancer and raise awareness about the disease among members of the male-dominated Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the need to support those affected.

It is with this in mind that she has engineered the involvement of the JDF in the Jamaica Cancer Society’s (JCS) 5K Run/Walk this Saturday, October 26, under the theme: ‘Battling for a Cure’.

The self-described “officer and a lady” who has the distinction of being the first female Aide-De-Camp appointed to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in August 2011, told JIS News that it is the innate desire to nurture, which led her to champion the cause of the men and women of the army, whom she discovered, to have been suffering silently from the ravages of breast cancer, either directly or indirectly.

She said that the JDF, which is male dominated and male influenced, was a good place to start because the focus of the JCS for this year was on enhancing male awareness.

She noted that the female population in the JDF is less than three per cent and it is important for the women to be supported by the men and even for a short while have them stop and think about breast cancer.

Captain Basil Jarrett, the JDF’s Civil Military Cooperation and Media Affairs Officer, told JIS News that when Major Spence discovered that a number of soldiers and officers were touched in some way by cancer, either fighting their own battle with the disease or in solidarity with a close relative, the approval of the CDS was sought to create a support group allowing those affected to be able to deal with their experience as a part of a family unit.

The CDS caught the vision and the JCS was approached and the JDF was “…welcomed with open arms”. He said that at least 100 soldiers and officers have agreed to participate in the event.

The JDF has decided to set aside the standing orders as it relates to dress and deportment for the duration of the run/walk, and members of the force will exchange their camouflage jackets for pink shirts bearing the message: ‘Battling for a Cure’ – The Jamaica Defence Force Supports the Fight Against Breast Cancer.

Captain Jarrett said that one major reason for this level of involvement of the JDF is to encourage men to remember that their wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters and daughters could be affected any time by the disease and they need to educate themselves about breast cancer.

He said that the hope is to also encourage more men to get screened for cancer. He said that traditionally, Jamaican men did not look after themselves and generally wait until they were sick before going to the doctor.

Carolind Graham, Chairperson of Jamaica Reach to Recovery, the support group for cancer survivors, has welcomed the involvement of the JDF. “We are so happy to have them on board and we welcome them as warriors against breast cancer,” she said.

The 5k Run/Walk will get underway at 7:00 a.m. in the vicinity of Stadium East in Kingston. Participants will run/walk from Stadium East to Mountain View Avenue along Stanton Terrace to Fairview Avenue onto Lady Musgrave, to Old Hope Road. Then they will loop back to Stadium East, for the presentation of trophies and medals.

This year, the target is to raise $3 million to help persons with breast cancer access the treatment and other medical interventions.