As the fight against cancer in Guyana continues
BREAST cancer is at an all-time high in countries such as Guyana and so the Health and Education Relief Organisation for Cancer (HEROC) was formed in 2013 by a number of Guyanese overseas and locally, who wanted to give back to their country of birth in a meaningful way by tackling this disease.
President of the organisation, Lorna Welshman-Neblett who resides overseas, says the main purpose of the work is to educate the public both in the United States of America, as well as here in Guyana, that early detection saves lives.
“Our doctor on the nutritional team advises of natural healthy meals and activities that are beneficial to the cancer patients, as much as it may help in the prevention of cancers,” she said
Welsman-Neblett told the Pepperpot Magazine that every October all of the work is done during Breast Cancer Awareness month, except in the July/August when Summer Camps for Children are sponsored in the city of New York, USA. On this occasion, the children participate in arts and crafts, cultural programmes and educational trips.
DISREGARD FOR AGE
She explained that HEROC does not specify any age group to work with. “Cancer does not discriminate in age, religion or ethnic origin. We have not seen that cancer affects any specific age group. It affects all ages. We do not target any specific group. [Similarly] our sister organisation in Guyana – the Giving Hope Foundation (GHF) headed by Oncologist Dr. Latoya Gooding, said that they are always willing to see every patient, regardless of age or nationality who visits the organisation,” she said.
Welsman-Neblett added that HEROC has taken note of the fact that statistics are showing that breast cancer is at an all-time high rate in Guyana. At the same time, the GHF is continuing to offer much support in ensuring that women and men who are diagnosed with breast cancer, live normal lives from the stage of being diagnosed, while being treated, and even after cancer would have been eradicated from their system.
LIVING NORMAL LIVES
HEROC, in an effort to assist in helping the women and men live normal lives, conducts a series of fundraising activities, from which items are obtained to provide support to cancer patients.
President of the GHF, Dr. Latoya Gooding stated that when people are diagnosed with breast cancer there is an almost immediate need, much assistance and support, especially financially. This, she said, comes in the form of the need for nutritional foods, to help where women would have received radiotherapy or CT scan, also where women may have had the mastectomy (the taking off of the breast as part of their treatment).
The GHF also offers breast prosthesis free of cost, and women who are undergoing or have completed chemotherapy and suffered hair loss can receive wigs at no charge to the individual. At the same time, the GHF also offers free counselling services to both the patient and their family.
MEN ARE INVOLVED
Welsman-Neblett informed that men are specifically affected by prostate cancer. However, it is also a known fact that men can have breast cancer as well, stating that Guyana does have a record of men that are affected by breast cancer. “Therefore, it is important for men to take this disease as a serious matter and continue to have their prostate examinations done,” she urged.
She stated that HEROC fully supports their sister organisation in Guyana, the GHF, in the area of reaching out to families of cancer victims, adding that the GHF also conducts one-week camps for children who have lost their parents to cancer.
THE WHO REPORT
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) September 2018 report :“Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and is responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Globally, about one in every six deaths is due to cancer.
“Approximately 70 percent of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries…Around one-third of deaths from cancer are due to the five leading behavioural and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol use.”
Further, Welshman-Neblett has stated that the WHO 2014 Report, ranked cancer as the top 25 causes of deaths in Guyana, where there is limited access to the required health care for this dreaded disease.
She indicated that in 2015, 125 breast cancer cases were diagnosed and 46 cancer-related deaths recorded at the Oncology Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). These figures, it noted, are only based on the reported cases, since Guyanese are not vocal about having this disease.
The HEROC team which consists of 20 persons to date, is comprised of health care professionals and non-medical members. The team is focused on providing assistance through education and awareness to promote early detection and screening, distribution of prosthetic bras and wigs, financial support and counselling and nutrition services for cancer patients and survivors, even as the organisation continues to work in collaboration with the GHF as part of its mission trips to Guyana.
HEROC’s president disclosed that the financial and other resources are obtained mainly from fundraising activities (such as an annual spring tea party in April, a bingo evening in July and a Guyanese-style holiday breakfast in December), private corporations, Federal and State Governmental Agencies, individual patrons, through written solicitations and other non-for-profit organisations within the United States of America.
It was also stated that HEROC is actively involved in activities during October for Breast Cancer Awareness month, where they contribute to The American Cancer Society.
HEROC is a registered New York State Incorporation dedicated to the commitment of health care, education and nutrition for cancer patients and others of the community.
“Our goal is to improve and enhance the well-being and health of individuals within these communities… and will assist in providing the adequate and required help in the fight against cancer,” Welshman-Neblett informed.
HEROC’s advisory board includes Community Activist, Patricia Jordon-Langford; Dr. Harrison Mitchell; Natasha Pinhiero; Christine Blackmore and Elsa Kum.
The patrons include Lorna Campbell; Dr. Sonia Noel; Gem Fraser; Norma Daniels, all of whom are from Guyana; Doris Rodney and Marva Jacobs of the USA, with the Giving Hope Foundation of Guyana as their major sister- organisation. (firstname.lastname@example.org)