Message for Cancer Awareness Month 2021
World Cancer Day is observed worldwide on February 4. According to the Union for International Cancer Control (UCIC) “the aim is to inform and encourage people on its prevention, early detection, and treatment.” This initiative to campaign and advocate for the targets of the World Cancer Declaration, was penned in 2008. It is “an empowering call to action urging for personal commitment” because individual actions taken today….will impact the future” (UCIC).
In Grenada, World Cancer Day has been recognized for several years. Although facilities are always available for screening in the primary health care arena, individuals are encouraged and reminded take advantage of them during this period. Breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men are the most frequently occurring in the Grenadian population. However, we still lack the knowledge and understanding about the factors that cause cancers to develop among us. Every citizen must remain aware of these diseases and their effects on individuals, their family, workplaces, communities and our country as a whole.
On World Cancer Day we are reminded that we can and will overcome cancers. In other words, each individual has a personal responsibility to learn about cancer, to practise lifestyles to prevent its occurrence and to be screened for early detection should disease occur. Unfortunately, we tend to seek care late, causing cancer to account for over 10% of deaths annually. It was for this reason that since 2019 Grenada dedicated February as National Cancer Awareness Month. Everyone is reminded to utilize this time to acquire more knowledge of all the forms of cancers that may affect us and are encouraged to screen for disease. Simple tests like breast examinations and mammograms, prostate examinations and PSA tests and Pap tests are available on demand within the health services.
The Grenada Cancer Society (GCS) is collaborating with the Ministry of Health as we recognize World Cancer Day and then National Cancer Awareness Month, February 4 to 28. We continue to honour our commitment to provide education and create opportunities for screening for cancers even to the most remote areas of our nation. Cancer Awareness month will be recognized in 2021 under the theme “I Can and I Will: Men Fight Cancer”.
The focus will be on prostate cancer. Our men remain the pillars of our national economy and the stronghold of our families and must be supported and encouraged to seek out information about prostate cancers as they contemplate and decide to take action to access screening and ensure prevention. During this period, opportunities to screen for disease will be available at all health centres dispersed across our islands, at their private doctors’ offices or at the several health fairs that will be staged during that period. The media will join in sharing information to educate the public. During this month and beyond, GCS is encouraging community, sporting and faith-based organisations to open the dialogue about men’s cancers and their overall health. We are reminded that early diagnosis is achievable through regular screening and that lives may be saved if disease is identified and appropriately treated. The need to maintain social distance in the COVID 19 pandemic has significantly affected the delivery of services to our community, but GCS is determined to fulfill its promises.
The necessary adjustments are being incorporated into our plans while protocols for safety and eradication of the coronavirus are strictly observed.
Healthy lifestyles including avoiding tobacco use, minimizing alcohol intake, being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight and diet are proven ways to keep cancers and disease away. The cost to our economy, our already overburdened health services, shortened lifespan and the poor quality of life will be avoided, however we will face unfortunate challenges if we fail to take action now. Grenadians must choose to live long and happy lives.
“Preventing cancer is better than treating cancer” – early diagnosis will save our lives.