Dr Jennifer Mamby Alexander | Driven by her many passions
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and The Gleaner has invited several stakeholders to be Guest Editors of a special edition of the newspaper. They will help bring into sharp focus the impact that this dreaded disease has had on the Jamaican society; the fear and often steely resolve of those who battle this illness; and the policies that determine whether they live or die.
On Monday, October 2, readers will be locked into this special Gleaner publication that these individuals, passionate about cancer awareness, have edited.
Today, we feature the third of our Guest Editors - Dr. Jennifer Mamby Alexander, cytopathologist and breast cancer survivor.
Jennifer Mamby Alexander is a cytopathologist - a doctor who makes diagnoses on cells and tissues. Our guest editor comes to us with an intimate knowledge of breast cancer, being a medical doctor and breast cancer survivor herself.
Mamby Alexander graduated from the University of The West Indies (UWI) in 1972 with a BSc in chemistry. This scientist, on her way to becoming a medical doctor, did research that took her to the Tropical Metabolism Research Unit of the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), where, along with Dr Betty Robinson, she examined pancreatic metabolism in rats. Teaming up with Sir George Alleyne, former chancellor of the UWI, further research was done on renal metabolism in rats.
Between 1976 and 1981, Mamby Alexander's focus was primarily on becoming qualified as a medical doctor, and that she did, gaining honours in anatomy and pharmacology at the UHWI.
She did her internship at the UHWI in 1982 and post-graduate training in anatomical and clinical pathology from 1983-1987 at the University Hospital for The Albert Einstein College of Medicine at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, United States.
Battle with breast cancer
It was during her training in pathology that she discovered a breast lump. Three years and many negative tests later, and at her graduation, the lump was finally diagnosed malignant. Her battle with breast cancer had begun. That, you will read about in our special publication in which she is guest editor.
Mamby Alexander is owner and founder of Surgipath & Cytology Lab Service, the first non-hospital-based cytopathology laboratory in Jamaica, where biopsy and liquid samples are examined and processed to diagnose various diseases. She was trained to do special but simple office procedures called fine-needle aspiration biopsies, which remove cells from lesions all over the body to diagnose tumours before surgery.
She is the owner and chief executive officer of The Hair Loss Clinic of Jamaica, the first hair-restoration clinic in Jamaica, where patients receive hair transplants and other non-surgical methods for treating hair loss. The fact that she lost her own hair to chemotherapy became the springboard into that area of medicine. She has since become a member of The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery.
Dr Jennifer Mamby Alexander has more than a dozen medical publications. This strong advocate for breast cancer has had several articles published in this newspaper. Her books have been winners. They include the first and second editions of A Practical Guide to Coping with Cancer, published in 2008 and 2009, and her popular If Love's so Nice, Why Does it Hurt? published in 2010, which was given a best writing award by The Book Industry of Jamaica Award in 2011.
She is chairperson of the Health Sector of The United Way of Jamaica, a non-profit voluntary organisation.