Having the facilities in place, along with available treatment, is only part of the fight against cancer. But there is even more to combating this dreadful disease that has been wreaking havoc in Guyana and across the world for that matter.
According to President of the United States-based Health and Education Relief Organisation for Cancer [HEROC], Ms. Lorna Welshman-Neblett, “We have a lot of work to do here and most importantly we have a great deal to do in terms of educating people. We have to help people to understand what signs they should look for and to catch things very early because the earlier you catch it, the more likely you are to save a life.”
But the message of screening and early detection has been preached for many years. Despite this, the number of cancer cases has been increasing. HEROC has been able to recognise this dilemma, although it has only been collaborating with the Giving Hope Foundation for the past two years to help with the cancer awareness drive in Guyana.
The Giving Hope Foundation is a local non-governmental organisation which has the fight against cancer as one of its main objectives. The organisation, which has Dr. Latoya Gooding as its President, is one that also directs focus to helping to reduce the prevalence of suicide.
But given the fact that a great deal of attention is given to cancer during the month of October, the two organisations have been collaborating to raise awareness.
According to Welshman-Neblett, “There are instances based on what we have heard, the health workers here are finding most of their [cancer] cases at stage three or stage four and at that point it involves a lot of treatment and a whole lot of care.”
This state of affairs has been substantiated by Dr. Gooding, who has had involvement in the past at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC]. She revealed recently that there are many occasions when cancer is detected it is already at an advanced stage.
“What we are finding is that more and more persons are coming at late stages, that is, stage three and stage four,” said Dr. Gooding, as she too amplified the importance of regular screening.
With regular screening, she noted that the possibility of cancer being detected at an early stage is very possible. However, despite constant appeals for persons to embrace early screening, Dr. Gooding revealed that “it is still very rare to find somebody being diagnosed with cancer when it is stage one.”
But Welshman-Neblett noted that if deliberate efforts are made to ensure that cancer is detected as early as stage one or by stage two the latest, “you have a better chance to not only survive but to save yourself a lot of expense and a lot of wear and tear on the body, because chemotherapy and radiation are not easy on the body.”
Welshman-Neblett highlighted, too, that while some patients’ treatment regimen might be more difficult than others the fact remains that early detection is likely to ease the severity of the fight.
“While some may go through these treatments like thunderbolts, others really suffer, so early detection is really important,” the HEROC President related.
The collaboration between HEROC and the Giving Hope Foundation was born out of a recommendation made by Dr. John Mitchell of another US-based organisation – Health and Education Relief Organization [HERO]. The HERO team during a medical mission earlier this year visited the GPHC and was able to complete about 30 surgical procedures. HEROC is in fact an authorised affiliate body of HERO, according to Welshman-Neblett.
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