Twenty Grenadian women have been given the opportunity to get mammograms done free of cost at Spice Isle Imaging Centre with assistance from a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) living in Brooklyn, New York, Bertilda Superville.
The US-based Superville handed out the certificates raffle style on October 24 at the Happy Hill Secondary School, following a very informative session on the life-threatening disease called breast cancer.
The session was facilitated by Superville, along with her brother Dr. Andre Hamlet, who is attached to the Pediatrics department at the St. George’s General Hospital and Retired Unit Ward, Eunice Sandy-David.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY, Superville, a former teacher, who is now employed at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, said she took on the initiative after seeing “so many people coming from Grenada with stage 3 and 4 breast cancer when much can’t be done.”
Superville, who comes from a family that has a history of ovarian and colon cancers, said one of the things that really touched her was when a patient from Grenada came up to Kings County with stage 4 cancer and died on her unit a couple of days later.
“I saw her the Monday and she was there talking and everything. I didn’t work the Tuesday and when I came back the Wednesday and I asked where is the patient in that room and they said she retired (died) and around that time I was getting ready to come on vacation and I spoke to my daughter and I said, no, I have to do something”, she told the newspaper.
After days of brainstorming, Superville and her daughter came up with the idea to have a breast cancer awareness session in the community of Happy Hill, where she was born and raised, in an effort to spread the good news that early detection can help save lives.
She spoke of a fund-raising effort that was undertaken with support from friends and co-workers.
The first session was held at the Happy Hill Secondary School in October 2016, and was well received by community members.
“This is where I wanted to start, I wanted to start in the community,” said Superville, who hopes to gradually get more people involved in similar activities in their various communities.
This year’s forum, which was held at the same venue, underscored among other things, how breast examinations should be carried out in both men and women and what should be looked for.
Last month’s session was attended by close to 70 participants, including two men, who learnt what cancer is all about, the different types of tumors, those that are non-cancerous, or ‘benign’, and those that are cancerous, which are ‘malignant and how it can affect different parts of the body and some of the precautionary measures that persons can engage in to reduce and prevent it.
The event took place against the backdrop of sad news to Superville that one of her aunts had to undergo breast cancer surgery at the General Hospital.
She said: “One of the things that is touching me personally right now is that the Sunday before I came down, I got a call from my brother telling me that my aunt is diagnosed with breast cancer…so with all of this in mind it is gonna light a fire under me to do more because she (my aunt) never got the chance to do a mammogram”.
Retired nurse, Sandy-David, a retired Permanent Secretary and current Administrative Manager at the Office of the Integrity Commission, recommended that a breast examination should be done at least once a month.
“What is critical is that (through the sessions) basically, we are trying to educate people in the prevention aspect, so if we understand the preventative aspect, then it would serve to reduce on the number of persons diagnosed with breast cancer in the later stages”, she said.
Sandy-David told participants, “Should you identify anything different to the baseline that you have then it is very important that you get medical intervention.”
She also urged the participants to share the information in an effort to help save lives.
The participants all commended Superville for the initiative and promised to share what they have learnt.
“It was very informative, and powerful session,” one participant told this newspaper at the end of the event.