Sarah, Duchess of York implored Cayman’s community to embrace the three Cs – communication, compromise and compassion – to overcome the immense challenges posed by breast cancer.

By embracing an ethic of love and resisting fear, she reminded the 655 attendees at Saturday’s Breast Cancer Foundation gala of the power of community.

“I think it’s important that you all really appreciate yourselves and you turn to each other and say, ‘you know what, I really love you,’” Ferguson said from The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman ballroom.

In the face of detractors and doubt, she told those affected by cancer to continue to fight.

“It’s through failures and through the obstacles that are thrown at us that we can win change, that we can make a difference,” she said. “Because we don’t let them get to us. But we have scars in our heart.

“Our scars are, in fact, our medals of honour.”

Janette Fitzgerald of the Breast Cancer Foundation, left, poses with the Duchess of York, breast cancer survivor Tori Croft and Andy Croft. – Photo: Melissa Wolfe

Breast cancer survivor Tori Croft shared her personal battle with the disease and the important role that the Breast Cancer Foundation has played in her journey.

When Croft was first diagnosed, her children were just 3 and 5 years old. The diagnosis was more than just a struggle for herself, but one for her entire family.

At the Breast Cancer Foundation office in Grand Harbour, Croft said her family has been able to access counselling services that are personalised for patients, families and children.

“I continue to fight my breast cancer every day,” she said.”I am grateful to have had the Breast Cancer Foundation fighting alongside me the entire time.

“Having the support of a counsellor … has been crucial to our navigation and understanding of this journey through breast cancer. That service is one of many that the Breast Cancer Foundation provides to those impacted by this terrible disease.”

Other wellness initiatives have helped Croft alleviate the symptoms, such as pain and swelling from the removal of lymph nodes.

“The BCF wellness programme offers therapeutic and holistic treatments such as massage and acupuncture to help manage the side effects of breast cancer,” Croft said.

“While this may sound luxurious, the reality is that these services allow me to be in less pain so that I can get out of bed, be with my family and live my life.”

While the Breast Cancer Foundation currently offers extensive support programmes in Cayman, RE/MAX owner Kim Lund reminded attendees that such services should not be taken for granted.

Twenty-three years ago, when Lund’s wife, Brenda Tibbetts-Lund, was diagnosed with breast cancer, accessing information and services in Cayman wasn’t so easy. Her struggle was a driving force in creating many of the services now available to cancer patients and their families today.

Through chemotherapy and illness, Tibbetts-Lund made breast cancer advocacy a central cause in her final days.

“After the nine months, even though she had no hair, her whole purpose in life was to bring awareness to the Cayman Islands, to help the local people here,” said Lund, who serves as the Breast Cancer Foundation director.

“Unfortunately, Brenda, at 36 years old, died in 1998,” he said. “Nobody should die at 36 years old or even older than that from breast cancer. Her goal was to make sure in Cayman we did whatever we could to make sure we helped the people here. Every dime we raise here goes to Cayman.”

Saturday night’s live auction raised $209,300. The funds will be matched by an anonymous donor, bringing the live auction total to $418,600. Breast Cancer Foundation Chief Administrator Janette Fitzgerald said the total funds raised through the event are still being tallied.