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On a mission to beat cancer - Dorothy Satchwell and the MistyBlue Foundation offering support and care

Published:Friday | March 3, 2017 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater
Dorothy Satchwell

Western Bureau:

Dorothy Satchwell, the president of the MistyBlue Cancer Care Foundation, is a woman on mission - a relentless drive to help persons battling cancer beat the disease through education and treatment.

Cancer is something that Satchwell feels she must confront. she has seen her best friend succumb to breast cancer; watched her sister battle the same disease, and has had to spend time comforting another friend, who lost her husband to the 'Big C'.

Satchwell, who was based in England when she witnessed the impact of cancer on those around her, had her personal encounter when she returned home to Jamaica and was "on top of the world", having secured a consultancy job.

"To say it was an inconvenient time would be an understatement. Having just battled a difficult period of depression, I had given up my career overseas to return to my birth country to relaunch," said Satchwell.

"I found the ideal consultancy job and applied with great confidence of securing the job. I did get the job offer, but during that same week I also got another confirmation .... I had breast cancer."

While getting medical attention, Satchwell recognised how expensive it was for the treatment. She also noted that Westmoreland, where she was based, had one of the highest incidence and mortality rates of cancer, with no specialist equipment or personnel at its only public hospital.

Satchwell immediately decided it was time for action.

"I opted to have my treatment in England, where the National Health Service (NHS) provided free treatment and support," said Satchwell.

expensive treatment

"The average cost of cancer treatment in Jamaica is $1.5 million, which is compounded with long waiting time for diagnosis and treatment, along with extensive and costly travel to hospitals with specialist options," added Satchwell.

Knowing that not every cancer patient in Westmoreland would have the options she had, Satchwell decided to establish an organisation that would partner with persons fighting the disease.

In March 2015, she registered the MistyBlue Cancer Care Foundation as a non-profit organisation offering social entrepreneur outreach while providing innovative cancer-awareness education, nutrition awareness, diagnostic and preventive screening.

"The foundation's official launch was on July 16, 2015, and it has since hosted eight health fairs across the parish of Westmoreland," said Satchwell.

"Screenings were done for cervical, prostate and breast cancer, HIV, syphilis, heart disease and diabetes with ECG, blood pressure and blood glucose sugar testing.

"We have also impacted the parish with cancer awareness, prevention education and nutrition presentations in schools, churches, social clubs and corporate offices," added Satchwell.

With MistyBlue now an integral part of the medical landscape in Westmoreland, the services on offer are in great demand, hence the need for more resources.

To that end, a major fund-raising event, the MistyBlue Cancer Care Inaugural Fundraising Banquet, is being planned for April 1 at Sandals Whitehouse European Village & Spa in Westmoreland.

"The event is being held to raise funds towards purchasing a CT scanner for the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital," said Satchwell.

"A CT scanner is a crucial piece of diagnostic equipment in the detection and treatment of cancer and other critical medical conditions. The equipment costs US$300,000, and US$40,000 annually for insurance."

Justice Zaila McCalla, the chief justice of Jamaica, and Dr Alfred Dawes, the senior medical officer at the Savanna-la-Mar hospital, will be the keynote speakers at the banquet.

An appeal is being made to corporate Jamaica and individuals to collaborate with the MistyBlue Cancer Care Foundation by offering sponsorship and to purchase tickets for the event at US$150 for premium tickets and US$100 for standard tickets. For further details, contact: