By Loshaun Dixon
During October, as part of the“Breast Cancer Awareness Month,”The Essence of Hope Cancer Foundation in St. Kitts and Nevis is raising funds to assist in fighting the disease. The society has a packed schedule for the month including a walk-a-thon, a golf tournament and a Men in Heels exhibition.
Tamela Armstrong-Hendrickson president of the foundation, in an exclusive interview with The Observer gave an overview of the activities planned for the remainder of the month.
“We are having a walk on the Oct. 22, but before the walk we are having scheduled talks with churches and communities,” Armstrong-Hendrickson said. “Oct. 20 we will have ‘Ask the Doctor’ round-table panel talks. Oct. 22 we will have a ‘Walk for a Cause Race for Life’ walk- a-thon. Oct. 28 there will be a Men-in-Heels event on Bank Street that raises funds for women, it was introduced last year and a big, funny hit.”
“We are having a golf tournament on Oct. 29,” Armstrong-Hendrickson said. “We will also be having an exercise programme put on for us every year by the Marriot but a date has not yet been set.”
Armstrong-Hendrickson also said some individuals for Catwalk Coaching SKB will also be present at the Men-in-Heels event.
Armstrong-Hendrickson was asked how important the month of October was to her organization and stated that they try not to have all their events in October but try to spread it over the months but uses the month to host their major events.
“The month of October is very important. January to December is important to us because we have women being diagnosed with breast cancer and survivors who keep living with this horrible disease so it is not just the month of October,” she explained.
“It is nice to know that we have October to recognize breast cancer, but it is a 12-month all-year-round disease,” Armstrong-Hendrickson said. “It is an important month because that’s when people open their heart and their wallet more-so than any other month.”
Armstrong-Hendrickson explained how the funds raised over the month will be used by her foundation.
“We started off giving free mammograms but with women being diagnosed with breast cancer so often we are now looking toward getting financial help towards chemotherapy so that’s where most of the money goes,” she explained.
Armstrong-Hendrickson also pleaded with men to be wary of the disease as they too can become a victim.
“Men have to also be checked, we have one man we have helped who was diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said. “Men get breast cancer and there is one man I know that is getting chemotherapy for breast cancer.”
She stressed the importance of regular check-ups and living a healthy lifestyle.
“It is very important to get regular check-ups but it is even more important to live a healthy lifestyle which includes healthy eating, exercising, no stress, no smoking and the kind of things the doctor tells us about that is a part of trying to help with cancer,” Armstrong-Hendrickson explained.
“For women who have reached the age of 40, it is very important that they go for their first mammogram and then have one every year.”
According to the World Cancer Research Fund breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide.
The fund describes “breast cancer as hormone-related. The factors that modify the risk of this cancer when diagnosed pre-menopausal and when diagnosed (much more commonly) post-menopausal are not the same.
The Essence of Hope Cancer Foundation is in its seventh year. Armstrong- Hendrickson described its biggest achievement.
“Our biggest achievement is getting to know women and bonding with them and their families and they become a part of us,” she explained. “I get to be a part of these families and it saddens me when we lose them it feels like part of me is gone because they became a part of our family. So getting to know people and helping the families is our greatest achievement.”