Zoe Bridger, Gleaner Intern
Eleven years ago, The Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) launched a mobile mammography programme called 'A Drive to Breast Care'. Its aim was to take breast cancer-screening facilities to communities in geographic and economic isolation. This not only saves the travel and waiting time for mammography screening, but also results in the disease being found at an earlier stage of development, when the cancer is smaller and less advanced.
Yulit Gordon, executive director of the JCS, said: "The mammography unit is now 11 years old and is in desperate need of replacement. Just like a car, it starts to develop problems," she said. "We have spent millions of dollars repairing the unit and there is no room for error. This is a life-saving tool."
The JCS firmly believes that it is possible to have a successful fight against cancer through regular screening, early detection and treatment. Public education fora are free and individuals are encouraged to participate and get informed so they can make wise decisions regarding their health.
The programme has been a success - screening more than 6,000 women from all over Jamaica per year. But the much-needed replacement for the mammography machine is expected to cost US$350,000 (J$31,850,000) and the JCS will need all the help it can get to raise that sum.
"We have major fund-raising initiatives throughout the year." Gordon said. "We do presentations in individual corporate companies and we also have accounts set up with Scotiabank and the National Commercial Bank (NCB), which can accept donations from the public." The society also aims to set up an account with Victoria Mutual Building Society in the near future so customers can make donations to help in the raising of funds.
Regarding the importance of the mobile mammography programme Gordon said: "We have a commitment to the Jamaican public to take responsibility for their health. I believe the time to take action is now - it's always the present."
"The Jamaica Cancer Society continues to encourage all women to do monthly breast self examinations, visit their doctors and do annual clinical examinations; all women aged 40 and older should visit our clinic located at 16 Lady Musgrave Road and to do annual mammograms."
To donate to the JCS, the bank account numbers are: NCB current account number: 241639207. BNS current account number: 800472.