October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when local organisations and individuals highlight the disease that is one of the leading causes of death in woman, and raise funds to help patients and survivors.
In Cayman, 37% of all cases on the Cayman Islands Cancer Registry are breast-cancer patients. This accounts for 187 cases, said cancer registrar Amanda Nicholson.
Locally, it has been the most commonly reported cancer annually for the last seven years, Nicholson said.
“Since it has such high incidence globally, it is important to have a robust amount of data in order to understand how to prevent/manage it,” she said.
According to the US Breast Cancer Foundation, one woman in eight in the US will receive a breast cancer diagnosis in her lifetime.
This year, the Cayman Islands Cancer Registry’s goal for October is to have as many breast-cancer survivors as possible register “so that we have a clearer picture as to how this disease is impacting our population”, Nicholson said.
One of the most important weapons in the arsenal to fight breast cancer is early detection.
The Cayman Islands Cancer Society offers mammogram vouchers for those who may have difficulty paying for the procedure, which can help detect lumps and lesions that may be cancerous.
Breakdown by age
Of the 187 breast-cancer cases on the registry, 37% involved patients who were diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 49.
More than a fifth, 21%, related to patients aged between 50 and 59, while 18% involved patients aged 60-69.
Patients under the age of 40 accounted for 16% of cases.
Breast cancer has also been found in older patients, with 7% of reported cases being diagnosed in patients aged 70-79, and 1% in patients who were 80 and older.
According to the Cancer Registry’s data, the most commonly reported type of breast cancer is infiltrating ductal carcinoma, which is also referred to as invasive ductal carcinoma.
“During the month of October, we aim to raise awareness about the importance of breast cancer prevention and management. In order for medical professionals to do everything possible to prevent and treat this disease, we must first have a solid foundation of information as to how it impacts our unique community. Every time a survivor chooses to participate in the cancer registry, they are helping us reach this goal,” Nicholson said.
She added, “We continue to be extremely grateful to all of the breast cancer survivors in Cayman who have taken the time to register. Their contribution will help us better understand how to fight this disease. Anyone wishing to register may contact the Registrar at 244-2560.”
Breast cancer awareness events this month
Several events are being held this month to raise money for breast-cancer patients and to help fund research into the disease.
The annual Breast Cancer Foundation Gala, the charity’s main fundraiser, will be held on 17 Oct. at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. The event has already sold out. The guest speaker this year is Caymanian model and actress Selita Ebanks.
The foundation said the funds raised at its annual gala are “vital to enable us to continue to offer physical, financial and emotional support to not only the breast cancer patient but their immediate family members as required. This can be so vital for husbands, wives, partners, children – who can be left floundering by the news of a diagnosis of breast cancer.”
The Breast Cancer Foundation also has launched a ‘Pebble for Hope’ fundraiser, inviting people to donate $5 each to show their support for patients during breast cancer awareness month. The fundraiser’s slogan is “Be someone’s rock!”
Pebbles that have been hand-painted by breast cancer survivors can be picked up at Orchid Development, 3 Girls and a Kiln, Goodness and the Breast Cancer Foundation at Grand Harbour, between 12-31 Oct.
“This movement is inspired in the Kindness Project, which it is a trend where people in a community paint pebbles or small rocks and leave them for others to find and collect. The BCF Kindness Rocks will be a community collective act of sending out messages of affirmation and/or illustrations of care and support in honor of the Breast Cancer awareness month,” the foundation stated.
A number of companies are also offering pink items this month to raise money for the Breast Cancer Foundation.
These include ‘Hope’ pink gin from Cayman Spirits Company; a pink gift card available at the Camana Bay Visitor Centre; Saucha Cayman’s pink popcorn; and a portion of proceeds of sales on all pink diamond or pink sapphire jewellery from Island Jewellers in Camana Bay.
Throughout the month, the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens will be distributing free mammogram vouchers at Lions Den, next to the Mango Tree Restaurant.
The club is also holding ‘Brazz It Up’, a brassiere-design competition, which is describes as a “seriously uplifting fundraiser”.
The club’s annual Brenda Tibbetts-Lund Memorial Walk is being done differently this year, with walkers and runners being invited to take part in a month-long step challenge, rather than gathering in large groups to take part.
Eclipze Hair Design and Day Spa is hosting its 20th annual Cut-A-Thon for breast cancer awareness throughout this month.
The funds generated will be donated to the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens, which uses the money to help people in need of financial assistance.
Eclipze is looking for volunteers who are willing to cut off at least 10-12 inches of their hair or shave their heads to help them raise funds. Each volunteer will try to raise a minimum of $1,000 in sponsorship. Their hair can be donated to Locks of Love which makes wigs for children with hair loss.
The spa is also inviting men to come to the salon to take part in ‘Men Pink Pinkies’ where men can make donations to get their pinkie nail painted pink to help raise breast cancer awareness.
For more details on how to take part in any of the Eclipze events, call 945-1188 or email [email protected].