World Cancer Day-4th February 2021
For Saint Lucia Cancer Society (SLCS), “I AM AND I WILL” World Cancer Day (UICC) campaign continues this year, encouraging us all to do our part in the fight against cancer. Over the three-year span of this campaign, we have looked at the various faces of cancer. Last year we highlighted specifically the cancer statistics here in Saint Lucia, and advocated for the implementation of a National Programme for Cancer, and empowerment of each of our citizens on how to live healthy.
This year, we join UICC (Union for International Cancer Control) in saying THANK YOU to all the healthcare workers, caregivers and volunteers, as well as organizations and government agencies, locally, regionally and internationally, who have worked throughout this pandemic to continue to deliver cancer treatments to our patients. We know it has not been easy. The significant reduction in donations and fundraising activities, coupled with restrictions on gatherings have both impacted our ability to reach our communities. Through it all, you have persevered. Your response to an unrelenting CANCER has been an equally matched fight.
At SLCS, over the past 10 months, COVID-19 has directly impacted our ability to deliver the usual face-to-face prevention and educational programmes – both at the school and community level. Our patients have experienced limited access to diagnostics and treatments, which will no doubt translate to later diagnosis and increases in mortality. Reduced financial resources – loss of jobs and reduced available financial assistance – serve only to magnify the problem. Restrictions on imports earlier on in the pandemic impacted the availability of medications. Current restrictions in travel continue to limit access to advanced treatments not available on-island.
Additionally, our patients are fearful of contracting COVID-19 and many have stayed away from accessing or continuing treatments. This month, as our local numbers continue to surge, we will see even more glaringly the effects of the current wave of cases on accessibility to care for our patients. We anticipate further limitations and restrictions even if for a brief period of time. During this time, be guaranteed that cancer will not rest and neither can we.
Our response to this changing environment has been to support our members and patients in need and to maintain and increase the awareness and education on the need for prevention and early diagnosis through social media platforms. Our volunteers have been spectacular, giving of their time and service. And we want to celebrate you.
Quoting the words of Dr. Miriam Mutebi, Consultant and Breast Cancer Surgical Oncologist and Member of the UICC Board of Directors: “… Now is not the time to lose ground but, moving forwards, we must not only take advantage of the adaptations and innovations that are emerging as a “silver lining” to COVID-19, we must also take the opportunity to improve health systems as the pandemic passes.” We need to get back on track amidst this pandemic to ensure early diagnosis and quality treatment for all persons living with cancer.
We encourage each of you – corporate Saint Lucia, organizations, citizens – to join us on February 4th in celebrating all of the heroes in this fight against cancer. Join us in acknowledging the fighters and their families, and all the volunteers, advocates and health care workers working with and for them. Do your part to help save lives!
SAINT LUCIA CANCER SOCIETY