Pink October: SMMC holds open house for breast cancer awareness

POSTED: 10/6/14 12:18 PM

St. Maarten – Pink was the color of choice at the St. Maarten Medical Center’s open house on Saturday, Oct 4, which was held in honor of breast cancer awareness and the fight against breast cancer itself. Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Cornelius de Weever and PM Sarah Wescot-Williams were in attendance. In line with the theme of this event, PM Wescot-Williams disclosed that her mother is a survivor of breast cancer. “She was diagnosed with it decades ago and underwent surgery… she is now 93 years old!” The Positive Foundation and the Diabetes Foundation were also present.

Chairman, Board of Directors, Johannes Kees Klarenbeek opened the event, explaining why SMMC holds open houses: “Why invite people to come to a place where they generally do not like to go? It’s for you to ask all the questions you want to. We will be as open as possible. Now we can show you what we do here.” He went on to commend everyone present for attending the event, for coming together to support the cause. “We Care Together” is SMMC’s motto. In explaining SMMC’s role in the treatment of breast cancer in women on St. Maarten, Klarenbeek said, “We are here as a medical support system for women with breast cancer at this hospital.” He urged everyone present to share what they had learnt at the open house with everyone, to “keep the discussion going.”

In her “Moment of Truth,” Marcellina Loblack, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2012, spoke about her personal battle with breast cancer. Upon finding a lump in her breast, she went to SMMC for an examination, where she was told she had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy treatment.

Having lost her mother to breast cancer, Loblack vowed that if she were to ever be diagnosed with breast cancer, it would be her duty to fight back. “My reason for living is my kids,” she admitted. After a failed reconstructive surgery, which made her struggle with her body image, Loblack fought back by starting her Still Beautiful Foundation. “It doesn’t matter what’s on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside.” She is a breast cancer survivor.

“Don’t take life for granted. Don’t take a small lump for granted. Get checked. Take advantage of the free screenings in October,” implored Loblack. “After all, there is nothing better than life itself.”

Dr. Henk Wassenaar, an oncologist at SMMC, spoke about the breakthroughs in medical science and the advances in treating breast cancer, which have increased the life expectancies of cancer patients. “The paradigm of treatment has changed,” said Wassenaar. “There is a phenomenon here: the more we work here, the more people we treat, the more people trust us. We have a good team. We can give all the chemotherapy necessary.” There are 50 new chemotherapy patients from St. Maarten. He added that breast cancer patients from surrounding islands come to St. Maarten for treatment.

When asked by Today about the future plans of SMMC regarding its expansion and UP leader Theo Heyliger’s promise of an entirely new hospital (two different plans), Klarenbeek said, “We have to wait until October 10th when the new government is in place and see what money is available to see if we can get a new hospital or upgrade the existing one. We believe in the promises the politicians made.”

The hospital was built in 1991 to accommodate the then population of St. Maarten, which were 23,000. Since then the island’s population has more than doubled.

Free glucose, hypertension and cholesterol screenings were available. The event ended with a Zumba fitness session.

Did you like this? Share it:
Pink October: SMMC holds open house for breast cancer awareness by

Comments are closed.