WHEN tragedy in the form of the deadly breast cancer disease strikes, women are often caught surprised by all the emotional, psychological and financial demands that are associated with the disease.
However, two breast cancer survivors, Joan Valentine and Veronica Dixon, have tales of support and optimism for women affected by breast cancer.
Both women revealed that the Jamaica Reach to Recovery aided their journey towards being declared cancer-free. The organisation, which is an affiliate of the Jamaica Cancer Society, helped both of the women in a significant way. The volunteers, all of whom are breast cancer survivors, helped provide well-needed support, including information and counselling to Valentine and Dixon, along with as their family and friends.
According to 53-year-old Valentine, although members of her family had previously been affected by breast cancer, she was caught off guard when doctors diagnosed her with stage-one breast cancer.
“I never thought it would be me and because of that I was devastated, and I decided I just have to deal with it,” said the accounting clerk.
A part of Valentine's coping mechanism was the emotional support she received from her Jamaica Reach to Recovery support group.
“I found them a week before surgery (a mastectomy) and because of the experiences they shared, it gave me peace of mind that was unrivalled,” Valentine added.
Dixon's account of her journey after being diagnosed with stage-two breast cancer in 2014 is similar to Valentine's.
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“I had heard a lot of horror stories about the things cancer patients go through, but everything was smooth sailing, from the beginning of the process, surgery and chemo,” the 57-year-old explained.
Dixon credits the Jamaica Reach to Recovery for providing assistance she had not been aware was available until after her diagnosis.
“After I had done my surgery, I needed a bone and CT (computerised tomography) scan and I could not afford the nearly $100,000 it came to, but I got a well-needed discount after Reach to Recovery intervened and I was able to get the scans,” said the breast cancer survivor.
Both Dixon and Valentine, who are preparing to line up at the start for the annual ICWI/Jamaica Reach to Recovery Pink Run, which will be on October 28 in Kingston, are urging individuals to sign up for the run.
“Reach to Recovery helps a lot of women who are faced with breast cancer and the funds from the Pink Run are important to them being able to provide help to other women diagnosed and fighting the disease. I encourage persons to support the run as it is for a great cause,” Dixon implored.
The ICWI/Jamaica Reach to Recovery Pink Run — pink being the colour associated with breast cancer worldwide — is a themed 5k run/walk. The Pink Run is in its 15th year with this being its third year of ICWI as the title sponsor. The theme for 2017 is 'Tutus and Tall Socks', and individuals and teams are asked to come out in their outfits to show their support for breast cancer awareness month and survivors.