news 20171023 5“Early detection, saves lives” was the main theme of today’s Marion Forum organised by the Ministry of Education held at the St. Stanislaus College, Brickdam, Georgetown.

The event was held as Guyana and the rest of the world continue to raise awareness of Breast Cancer in the month of October which is designated “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”. Those in attendance included officials from the Ministry, teachers and students.
Breast cancer survivors, Ms. Neiberth Haynes and Ms. Beverly Ann Munesar shared their experiences of fighting the disease from the day of diagnosis to present as they continue to fight the good fight.
Ms. Haynes, Head Mistress of Belle West Nursery School, said that it was during her early 20s that she discovered a painless lump in one of her breasts. She took the lump for granted. However, as years went by, she realised that there had to be more to the situation. With the help of her dear friend Valerie Fortune who worked at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, she was advised to an examination and 20171023 6
The said lump was discovered. Doctors advised that the lump should be removed and tested. At the end of six weeks, Ms Haynes received the devastating news from her doctors that she had breast cancer. Doctors told her that the entire breast can be removed or they can ‘burn out’ the cancer. She ultimately decided to remove the affected breast. Ms. Haynes told the gathering that she has not regretted the decision to remove her breast because it saved her life.
According to Ms. Haynes, one of the biggest factors when fighting cancer is the support from relatives, friends and colleagues. Ms. Haynes could not help but thank God for the support of her relatives including her aunt who survived cancer for over 40 years.
She said that one of the biggest lifestyle changes that is necessary when fighting the deadly disease is the change of diet. Ms. Haynes explained that her diet changed tremendously whereby she stopped using a lot of foods that contain high levels of sugar. She said supporting her new diet is expensive but it is worth every penny.
Meanwhile, cancer survivor and former Head Mistress of Sans Souci Nursery School, Ms. Beverly Munesar, explained that she first detected an abnormality with her right-side breast while on vacation in Canada with her husband.
She said after waking one morning, she discovered her breast was a bright pink. However, after a few days the discolouration was gone but reappeared on her return to Guyana. With the advice of her husband, she decided to visit the West Demerara Regional Hospital. There, she underwent an ultrasound examination which revealed that she had breast cancer.
With a biopsy done on the breast at the Cancer Institute of Guyana, Lamaha, Georgetown, Ms. Munesar was told that she had ‘stage 2’ breast cancer. Like Ms. Haynes, she decided to remove her breast. However, after that surgery, she underwent eight sessions of chemotherapy and twenty-five sessions of radiation 20171023 3
Ms. Munesar said that during the initial period of fighting the disease she received tremendous support from her relatives and colleagues in the Ministry of Education which gave her the strength she needed to continue fighting for her life. She described cancer as ‘a cross’ and ‘a devil’ and stressed that anyone fighting the disease needs the strength to so do.
She said that persons that have been diagnosed with cancer should not be afraid or ashamed to let others know of their condition. According to Ms. Munesar, by telling others persons can be advised and inspired to do a self-examination or even visit a doctor for further testing.
Similar to Ms. Haynes, Ms. Munesar said that breast cancer caused her to change her diet. She said that presently she consumes a lot of fish and fresh green leafy vegetables. Further, she advised the women and children in attendance that if they have cancer and would have received treatment, feeling better does not signal the end of the fight. She advised that persons must continue to have frequent medical check-ups to ensure that the cancer is under control.
Also addressing the gathering was Minister of Education, Hon. Nicolette Henry, who said that a greater focus needs to be placed on lifestyle choices. She said that a lot of diseases are linked to lifestyle choice including the type of food consumed. news 20171023 4
She urged the children that they should share the information conveyed to them with their parents, relatives and neighbours. Minister Henry advised that highly processed food should be avoided, particularly those imported from the developed world.
Minister Henry highlighted that breast cancer is not gender specific and that men too are at risk of developing it. However, it is more common among women. The Minister stressed that individuals need to have themselves tested, examined and screened on a regular basis.
The forum was not void of entertainment as there was an interpretive dance done that stressed the importance of getting examined by a doctor. There was also a spoken word poem done by Ms. Lavonne George of the Allied Arts Unit. The poem stressed on the message of 'The will to live.”