Vanessa Hansen

A new locally produced video designed to bring attention to cancer has been released just in time for World Cancer Awareness Day on Sunday, Feb. 4.

The video, which appears on the homepage of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society (www.cics.ky), features three Cayman cancer survivors talking about the “color” of their cancer.

Breast cancer has widely been associated with the color pink in recent years. Jennifer Weber, operations manager for the Cancer Society, said many people may not know that many other cancers have their own colors. They are meant to be a conversation starter, she said.

“It makes it so people can talk,” Ms. Weber said. “‘Why are you wearing lime green?’ ‘Oh, because someone I know had lymphoma.’”

In the video, Vanessa Hansen, Anita Smith – who both have experience in video and/or television production – and businessman Jim Gobetz share the colors of their particular cancers and promote World Cancer Awareness Day.

Ms. Smith was the driving force behind the video. She said the Cancer Society has helped her repeatedly in her ongoing battle against endometrial and ovarian cancers, and she wanted to give back.

“I wanted to help the Cancer Society because I have cancer,” Ms. Smith said. “They’ve been there anytime I needed anything.”

Jim Gobetz

She said the society has supported her emotionally and financially, providing help with airfare, hotel stays and medical costs for treatment she’s received in the United States.

When she first discovered she had cancer, she said, “I had four blood clots and a huge mass. I had to be airlifted off the island for emergency surgery.”

Friends suggested she contact the Cancer Society when she returned to Cayman, she said, but she was reluctant.

“Sometimes you just don’t want everyone to know,” she said. “I had an amazing meeting the first time with Jennifer.”

Since then, she has encouraged a number of her friends to seek out the same kind of support.

“I want people to know they are there for them,” she said.

Early detection crucial

Ms. Hansen said she was fortunate not to need financial assistance when she was diagnosed with melanoma, but she understands how much the Cancer Society has helped others. She’s hoping the video will encourage people to get screened in order to catch potential cancers early on.

“The outcome is so much different if there is early detection,” Ms. Hansen said.

Ms. Weber said such screenings are increasing the numbers of cancer detections on the island.

“Seven years ago, we had 11 financial aid patients,” she said, of her first year with the organization. Now, she said, the four staff members are helping more than 300 families.

“Our early detection programs we’ve been touting are working,” she said. Despite the increase in cases, “we’re seeing more and more as pre-cancers or Stage 1, as opposed to Stage 4.”

Anita Smith

In 2017, she said, the organization provided $400,000 in financial assistance for patients, more than double any previous year. The Cancer Society receives no government support. Funds are raised through events and private donations.

Ms. Weber thinks the new video will make it possible to reach even more people.

“It was such a gift,” she said. “They did it so beautifully. It’s going to be a huge help to us. And they did it just in time for World Cancer Awareness Day.”

As part of its cancer awareness promotion, the Cayman Islands Cancer Society will be dedicating a celebration bell at the Cayman Islands Hospital’s chemotherapy center at 3 p.m., Friday, Feb. 2.