Kathy Kirkconnell, wife of MLA Moses Kirkconnell, is joining the Breast Cancer Foundation of Cayman as a volunteer who will head up a new effort to better serve breast cancer patients and survivors on the Sister Islands.
A former nurse and a recent breast cancer survivor herself, Ms. Kirkconnell will help in organizing support and awareness campaigns for residents of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, and in coordinating services for those in treatment.
Chief administrator of the foundation Janette Fitzgerald said providing services to Sister Islands residents typically meant bringing them to Grand Cayman.
“It was almost impossible,” Ms. Fitzgerald said. “We can talk to people on the phone. We can send money to the store so they can get the drinks like Ensure, when they can’t really eat anything [due to chemotherapy]. Kathy, with her contacts, can help.”
Ms. Fitzgerald said there are plans to have a support group of 10 or more people organized within a few weeks. Awareness events will be held twice a year. And she hopes to tap into more local services through Ms. Kirkconnell’s connections with healthcare providers.
She said the organization is planning to send a local resident abroad for a two-week training course in lymphatic massage. Swelling of the arms and legs is a common side effect of chemotherapy, Ms. Fitzgerald said. Relieving that pressure through massage is beneficial, but can also be dangerous if done incorrectly, she added, emphasizing the need for a certified therapist.
“I am so honored to join the Breast Cancer Foundation in launching their wellness and awareness initiatives on Cayman Brac,” Ms. Kirkconnell said in a news release. “As a recent breast cancer survivor, I can personally relate to the challenges encountered during and after breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“I am eager and thankful for the opportunity to work with the foundation to bring assistance, support and awareness to our small community.”
The foundation works to offer services such as pressure acupuncture, massage for neuropathy and joint pain (a common side effect of chemotherapy, radiation and breast cancer drugs such as Tamoxifen), dietary advice and assistance, exercise, such as yoga and stretching, lymphoedema checks and treatments when required, special bras and prosthetics, as well as counseling for the patient and their families where required.
“Extending our services and support in the Sister Islands is a huge leap for the foundation and has been one of our goals for many years,” Ms. Fitzgerald said.
She also noted that the foundation’s offices have moved to Grand Harbour, providing more space and the opportunity to offer specialized support groups. A formal opening of the new offices is planned in the coming weeks.