As the nation observes Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Government Senator, Dr. Sapphire Longmore, is encouraging more persons to get screened for the disease, as early detection is key in the cancer fight.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed in October each year in countries across the world to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment of the disease.
“It’s three years for me since I have been diagnosed and I don’t see myself as a survivor, I see myself as a ‘thriver’, and that is what I wish and know is possible for anyone who faces such a daunting diagnosis. It can be a very traumatic, very earth-shattering moment when someone comes to the realisation that they may be afflicted with something like the ‘big C’, like cancer,” she shared.
Dr. Longmore was speaking at today’s (October 9) sitting of the Senate, at which the Senators spoke about the importance of awareness.
She also urged persons to maintain healthy lifestyles, noting that this coupled with early detection can alter the outcome for persons who have been diagnosed.
“It is the preparation that you do before; it is the way that you live your life that can make the difference, in terms of the outcome. No two cancers are the same, no two circumstances are the same, but there are certain fundamental measures that one can do to enable their chances,” she argued.
These include maintaining a healthy diet, exercise, adequate rest, frequent screening and health check-ups.
Dr. Longmore also encouraged persons to acquire health insurance, pointing out that this will offset some of the expenses associated with the disease.
She noted that the country has made significant strides in increasing access to screening and treatment.
Dr. Longmore expressed gratitude to members of the Senate and all the people who have journeyed with her during her diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
For her part, Opposition Senator, Sophia Fraser Binns, said cancer awareness is critical, noting that having an insurance policy in place “makes the difference between life and death… and the type of life you can live for those of us who manage to survive”.
“I am very pleased to say I have been informed of insurance companies that have taken the steps to treat with some of these female specific illnesses. I am very pleased about that,” she said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith; and Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Donna Scott Mottley, also contributed to the discussion.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women anywhere in the world. Women who are over 50 years old, who have a family history of breast cancer, or are overweight, have a greater chance of developing the cancer than others.
Poor diet, excessive alcohol use, and physical inactivity can also put one at greater risk for developing the disease.
The Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) recommends regular mammograms, which can detect the presence of lumps and other breast abnormalities up to two years earlier than a person would be able to see or feel them.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness states that the earlier breast cancer is detected, the more successful the treatment, as the disease is more easily managed in its early stages.
The test can be done at specialist hospitals and institutions islandwide.