NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (October 21, 2022) – The following is an address by Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Jr. Minister of Health and Gender Affairs in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), to mark the observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2022.
October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each year we use this opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of breast health. This annual month-long campaign seeks to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer not only on survivors but on their loved ones as well.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis for women worldwide. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. Although breast cancer is more prevalent among white women, black women tend to die from the disease more often. The latest breast cancer data from World Cancer Research Fund International estimate that in 2020, there were 2.26 million new cases of breast cancer in women worldwide.
In spite of the statistics, more than a third of women don’t take the time to check their breasts or consider a mammogram. Breast Cancer Awareness Month reminds women (and men) that monthly breast cancer exams should be a regular part of one’s self-care. Breast self-examination is a useful and important screening tool, especially when used in combination with regular physical exams by a doctor, mammography, and in some cases ultrasound and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These combined screening methods can increase the chances of early detection.
Studies have shown that earlier diagnosis coupled with effective treatment, have led to reductions in breast cancer mortality. In fact, World Health Organization (WHO) has summarized that “Breast cancer treatment can be highly effective, achieving survival probabilities of 90 percent or higher, particularly when the disease is identified early.” Therefore, raising awareness and understanding breast cancer risks, early signs is an important part of a public health approach for breast cancer.
A diagnosis of breast cancer touches so many lives. It is up to all of us to continue fighting for a cure and to ensure that every Nevisian has access to the quality care they need. As the Minister with the responsibility for Health and Gender Affairs, we seek to provide education, treatment, and support services to those living with all stages of breast cancer.
The Ministry has started the process of procuring a mammogram machine which is an important tool to be used in the fight against breast cancer. It will be part of our screening services available at Alexandra Hospital. We continue to applaud organizations such as Pink Lily Cancer Care, Essence of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation and Reach for Recovery Breast Cancer Support Services who are also dedicated to providing financial assistance, information, and hope for cancer patients and their loved ones, and who continue to partner with us in our many initiatives.
We are all in this together.