Minister shaves head to support the fight against breast cancer

POSTED: 10/4/12 12:51 PM

St. Maarten – With his head shaved and casually dressed, Public Health Minister Cornelius de Weever signaled at yesterday’s Council of Minister press conference that he was in support of breast cancer patients, survivors and awareness.

All month long activities have been planned to observe breast cancer awareness globally. This comes on the heels of last month’s commemoration of cervical cancer awareness.

The minister said that any form of cancer must be aggressively fought and one way of doing this is through regular medical screenings.

“The message today must also include hope and promise- and early detection remains the single greatest weapon in our arsenal to defeat this crippling disease. Both breast cancer and cervical cancer know no demographic lines. I encourage all women and men to participate in the variety of breast cancer awareness activities that will occur throughout the month in St. Maarten. Really take the time to understand more about each disease and what guidelines must be followed for early detection.”

Apart from the individual efforts of foundations such as the Kelaha Project, Positive Foundation and Elektalyetes Foundation, the Public Health Ministry also has a preventative program in place called Get Checked St.Maarten.

“Cancer screenings are just one of the many preventive services that are a part and are the heart of our Get Checked St. Maarten campaign. There are a multitude of health challenges that can be avoided altogether- with immunizations, annual visits to your doctor, or simple monitoring that can be done at home. I encourage all people to take charge of their lives and their health and find out more. Early diagnosis is often the key to ensure that treatments are more effective and lives can be saved. While many women get caught up in the routine of their daily lives as wives, mothers, friends and their careers – it is imperative that men do their part and remind their mothers, sisters, daughters and partners to be proactive and get checked. Support them,” the minister appealed.

The minister also offered words of comfort to those already afflicted by the disease or their family members who have to cope with the effects of cancer. He indicated that it takes remarkable courage to fight any form of cancer.

“I take this moment to honor those whose lives have been affected by either disease- those who have succumbed to these diseases, those who continue to fight bravely, and the family and friends who stand by these graceful warriors, providing support while coping with loss and the uncertainty associated with both types of cancer. There is no overstating the painful and difficult journey that is associated with both types of cancer.”

According to the Cancer Research Institute in the United Kingdom breast cancer is currently the top cancer in women worldwide, both in the developed and the developing world. The majority of breast cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, where most of the women are diagnosed in late stages due mainly to lack of awareness and barriers to access to health services.

The chances of recovery, once cancer becomes full blown are often slim, and only after successful invasive treatments such as chemotherapy. Currently there is no oncologist on the island. However the internists associated with the St.Maarten Medical Centre (SMMC) are working in close contact with the oncologists in Curacao, Aruba and Holland. Initiating chemotherapy treatment in some cases is possible in St. Maarten. Some patients get their initial treatment abroad and will continue their treatments home on St Maarten under guidance of the internist.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for us to highlight the survivors as well as remember those who have fallen,” Education Minister Silveria Jacobs added.

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