International Clinical Study Expanded in The Bahamas as Part of Breast Cancer Initiative
NASSAU - November 7, 2008 - The United States Embassy in the Bahamas, in partnership with the Cancer Society of the Bahamas and Susan G. Komen for the Cure® today made history with the expansion of the Cancer Society’s annual Stride for Life walk in support of breast cancer awareness. Today’s event marks the first time Susan G. Komen for the Cure has partnered on an event in the Caribbean. Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit cancer research in The Bahamas.
“Since launching the Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative, we have seen an overwhelming amount of support in our effort to improve the odds for so many Bahamian women through early detection, proper education and excellent care. The turnout for this morning’s walk makes me even more confident we will be able to save the lives of so many young Bahamian mothers, sisters, wives and daughters who are at risk for contracting breast cancer,” said United States Ambassador to the Bahamas Ned L. Siegel.
Changing the status quo and creating greater awareness
Ms. Xernona Clayton and Breast Cancer Survivors on An Evening with Xernona.
Now in its sixth year, the annual event has historically been held to promote awareness for all forms of cancer, however, in support of the newly launched Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative (BBCI), a public-private partnership unveiled by Ambassador Siegel in August. The initiative was created based on the alarming findings of researchers, in addition to the observations of Bahamian and American medical professionals, survivors and supporters committed to changing the status quo and creating greater awareness about the importance of early detection in saving lives.
“I applaud each and every individual who came together to help make this walk a success. The level of commitment and dedication to creating broader awareness on the islands about breast cancer is commendable,” said Bahamas Minister of Health Dr. Hubert A. Minnis. “Initiatives like these are vital in our efforts to ensure a greater quality of life for future generations. We will continue to be diligent in creating policies that ensure the health of our country’s most vulnerable citizens and educate all Bahamians about the importance of preventive healthcare, consistent health screening and early detection.”
In a country with a population of only 300,000, research indicates 48 percent of the Bahamian women diagnosed with the disease are under the age of 50, with 44 percent already having reached Stage 3 of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Studies also show that an alarming 43 percent of the women who succumb to the deadly disease are under age of 50 at the time of death.
“Research has shown that too many Bahamian women are dying of breast cancer because of lack of awareness and lack of access to early detection and treatment,” said Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of Komen for the Cure. “Fortunately, organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Cancer Society of the Bahamas and the Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative have pledged to work together to raise awareness and tackle these issues, so that together we can help save lives here in The Bahamas.”
Setting up a national registry to track cancer cases
Stride for Life Walk - Nassau, Bahamas
As a result of these startling statistics, University of Miami researchers have partnered with breast-cancer specialists and lead authors of the Bahamas breast cancer study, Nassau physician Dr. Theodore Turnquest and UM Physician Dr. Judith Hurley, and the Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative to expand a clinical trial started in Miami in 2002. They are working to set up a national registry to track the number of cancer cases in the islands and to develop a screening test that pinpoints the genetic mutation believed to place Bahamian women at greater risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. Preliminary research shows the mutant genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 sharply increase a woman's risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Women who have the mutations have up to an 85 percent chance of breast cancer.I would like to thank the many partner organizations, community and business leaders and most importantly the volunteers who came together to make this walk happen for a sixth consecutive year.
The overwhelming excitement generated by this year’s walk is not only heart-warming, but incredibly essential as the Cancer Society continues its efforts to conduct research and educate Bahamians on the importance of early detection and prevention of all forms of cancer,” said Cancer Society of the Bahamas President Terrance Fountain.
In addition to this morning’s walk, a number of activities took place this weekend in an effort to create broader awareness for the BBCI, and the importance of early detection and prevention. Events included An Evening with Xernona, a one-woman show featuring Ms. Xernona Clayton and friends including Richard Roundtree, actor and breast cancer survivor on Thursday, followed on Friday by a welcome reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador Ned L. Siegel and Mrs. Stephanie Siegel, Bahamian Minister of Health the Honorable Dr. Hubert A. Minnis, M.P. and The Links, Incorporated, Nassau Chapter who is a Komen’s Circle of Promise partner organization.
About Cancer Society of the Bahamas
The Cancer Society of The Bahamas is a registered, non-profit organization that was established in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in 1976. Its founder, Mrs. Susan Roberts, formed a group of concerned friends and dedicated volunteers to develop consciousness-raising activities aimed at educating the community on the importance of early detection, healthy life styles, smoking cessation and other cancer prevention related topics. Whether through its prevention education program; advocacy for improved services; national screening programs; support of persons with cancer and their loved ones; or through its facilitation of appropriate care via contacts abroad, the Society fills a much needed void in the local health care arena.
About the Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative
The Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative (BBCI), a public-private partnership that was formed in Nassau, The Bahamas in April 2008 sprung from the observations, efforts, commitment, and dedication of a group of Bahamian and American medical professionals, researchers, survivors, and supporters united in their determination to change the status quo in breast cancer care in The Bahamas. To provide funding for in-depth clinical studies, awareness and treatment programs, the newly formed 501(C) 3 foundation was established with the support of the local community. The three-pronged approach to the initiative includes: Education, Detection and Care with the ultimate goal of establishing a Cancer Registry. Partners of the BBCI include U.S. Embassy, Bahamas Ministry of Health, the Cancer Society of the Bahamas, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a diverse group of Bahamian oncologists, surgeons and radiologists, the Sister Sister Group, the Bahamas Christian Council, Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute and the University of Miami/Sylvester Cancer Center.
About the Circle of Promise
Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Circle of Promise campaign is an unprecedented campaign to engage African American women to help end breast cancer forever. The campaign educates women on empowering themselves and other black women to take actions that will save lives. The campaign’s goal is to recruit 100,000 ambassadors. To register to become a Circle of Promise ambassador visit: www.circleofpromise.org.