Government Senator and breast cancer survivor, Dr. Saphire Longmore, has renewed her call for women not to delay screening for breast cancer.
Sharing her experience with the disease during the MistyBlue Cancer Care Foundation’s teleconference on October 14, held in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), the Senator explained that screening is very important in helping to detect breast cancer at the earliest stage, when treatment is likely to be more successful.
Mammograms are the gold standard for breast cancer screening in Jamaica. Screening starts at age 40 and continues as long as the woman is in good health.
“This is the message I try to get across to people. Being a medical practitioner for a number of years and dealing with all sorts of illnesses, [I] found myself having cancer because of my very busy life and because I wasn’t doing my yearly checks and because I kept putting this off. Go out there and get checked; find the time,” Senator Longmore advised.
She pointed out that with a healthy lifestyle and regular screening, breast cancer survival percentage goes up considerably for persons who have been diagnosed.
“Your physical health, your diet, exercise, the healthy practices, the immune boosting agents, such as the fresh fruits and vegetables, are important. Watch the weight gain. Your physical health is critical,” she emphasised.
Senator Longmore also underscored the importance of other “dimensions of health,” including an individual’s social and mental well-being, in order to better cope with the disease, if diagnosed.
“We all say prevention is the best cure, but what is the best prevention? Preparation, and in preparing yourself for some of these unforeseen things in life, you have to look at the different dimensions of your health. You have mental health, you have social health, you have spiritual health; all of these are critical when you are dealing with a life-and-death situation,” she said.
Dr. Longmore noted that access to lifesaving diagnostic tests and treatments is costly, and in that regard, encouraged persons to acquire health insurance, which will help to offset the cost associated with battling the disease.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Jamaican women followed by cervical cancer.
The Westmoreland-based MistyBlue Cancer Care Foundation is spearheading several online conferences up to December, to highlight statistics and trends relating to cancers.
These are being streamed on various social media platforms on the second Wednesday of each month between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Members of the public can tune in to these events on Zoom, the MistyBlue Cancer Care Foundation’s YouTube and Facebook pages, as well as the JIS’s YouTube and Facebook pages.