EDITORIAL – ‘For a good cause’: Cayman’s social season has begun

It must be October: The school year is well under way. Hurricane season has entered its final phase. Master of ceremonies extraordinaire (and Pinnacle Media’s own) Vicki Wheaton can be seen everywhere there is a working microphone.

That means, as readers will have noticed from today’s front page, the Cayman Islands’ “social season” has now begun.

The Breast Cancer Gala Dinner at The Ritz-Carlton is an unofficial kickoff to months of functions, fundraisers, dinners, auctions and evenings of elegance in Grand Cayman. There’s far more substance to these events, of course, than giving the “who’s who” of Cayman the opportunity to rub shoulders in black-tie and ballroom attire. While we call it the “social season” for good reason, we could also describe it as Cayman’s “season of charity” as well. As a rule, the functions aren’t just parties – they’re for worthy causes.

Consider, for example, the Breast Cancer Gala. For nearly a decade the annual event has been the biggest single source of revenue for Cayman’s nonprofit Breast Cancer Foundation. The impact of the gala doesn’t end with the clap of the auctioneer’s gavel or the fading of the final note from the band’s lead singer – indeed, it doesn’t really begin to be felt until weeks or even months later, once the organization has collected, processed and distributed the funds raised during the event.

But that impact is very real. Last year, the foundation introduced two novel services to people in Cayman undergoing treatment for breast cancer: chemotherapy cold caps, and lymphatic drainage and treatments (to help breast cancer patients manage a painful condition called lymphedema).

The chemotherapy cold caps help to mitigate one of the most well-known (and psychologically daunting) side effects of cancer treatment – hair loss. As gala speaker Tori Croft (Cayman’s first breast cancer patient to try the cold cap therapy, and successfully) observed, if you go out in public anywhere with a completely smooth scalp, particularly as a woman, you might as well be wearing a T-shirt proclaiming, “I am a chemotherapy patient.”

Thanks to the foundation and other beneficent individuals and groups in the community, cold cap programs are now available here (soon, in all three of Grand Cayman’s hospitals) – and Ms. Croft has been able to undergo needed chemotherapy treatments while retaining her gorgeous brown locks.

Ms. Croft, who as a teenager had to fight Non-Hodgkin lymphoma without recourse to cold caps, said that being able to keep your hair means being able to seize control from cancer over an important and very visible aspect of your life. In effect, the fight to keep her hair became a useful secondary battle on which to focus amid the greater war against the cancer itself.

On a similar line of thought, but speaking more broadly, it can be daunting to imagine all the myriads of maladies and threats that we are working together as a society to combat. But “fighting the good fight” can become more manageable if it is broken down into smaller and smaller components, and we can feel that real progress is being made when we tackle specific issues one step, one facet – and sometimes one evening – at a time.