If you've been in Nevis over the past few months, no doubt you have seen the flyers and posters plastered all over the island.
The Nevis Maternal Health Fund in collaboration with the Ministry of Health launched a campaign to raise awareness and answer questions about cancer. The Campaign was titled "Loving Touch, Gentle Exam".
I was asked to be a volunteer and bring my Photography skills to the table. Without hesitation I quickly agreed and immediately we got the project underway. I was blessed to meet some of the strongest women that I have ever met, all sharing a common denominator…Their passion for banding together, supporting each other and Spreading an important meassge to the community.
These beautiful women came from all walks of life, as cancer doesn’t discriminate about age, gender or race. Together, they support each other and are reaching out to the community to raise awareness and provide information. The campaign sought to meet ladies in an environment where they were comfortable to interact directly with the doctors and nurses, to ask questions and share concerns regarding this disorder.
The First of the images was to be a combination of graphics and group Photography to create a logo.
The key and vital message throughout the campaign and what we hope everyone reading this article would take seriously is that EARLY DETECTION ...DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE! As regards cervical cancer.... if you are a woman and are sexually active you need to have an annual pap smear an examination that screens for changes in the cervix and vagina. Pap smears are available at the health centres in St. Kitts –Nevis FREE of charge or by private doctors. Cancer doesn't wait for you to become old, It can affect any age. This images shows that even as a young woman, you may be asking "Am I at risk?"
Women are also recommended to have regular mammograms from the age of 40 or earlier if they have concerns or if there is family history of breast cancer. A part of this current campaign also involves free screenings and mammograms for several ladies based on clinical criteria. Nevis has Mamogram Screening, here is the equipment which may change people's lives.
The message was and is Clear..."We have information for you. You have support. We have the ability for early detection".
You have to be a fighter, don't be afraid...Together, We can Fight back. You don't have to be alone. You can beat Cancer.
As Regards Breast Cancer...Women are encouraged to know their own breasts, to learn how to feel, touch and look for any changes and to early seek medical help if any change is noted. Learning how to perform a self breast exam is vital to early detection.
These beautiful women have found support and friendship with each other. They know that they are not alone.
The Awareness Campaign has already proven to be a huge success drawing the attention of both men and women.
Meetings have been held in every Parish throughout the island starting in St. Paul’s and culminating in St. John’s. At each meeting two short locally produced films were the launch pad for the discussions. Both films were the brain child of Dr Jessica Bardales (a cancer patient herself) a strong and dedicated clinician with a deep passion to fight against this scourge with every cell within her. Interestingly the first film (focusing on cervical cancer) was created before she even knew that an errant cancer cell was targeting her too. However her experience and struggles with cancer made her even more resilient and so with the help of fellow professional colleagues, ‘film making’ friends ,volunteers and other cancer survivors and fighters the second film was produced and was viewed as the launch pad for discussions at each gathering .
Her first reaction when discovering she had Cancer, like anyone with the same discovery was fear and anger.
But thanks to Knowledge and support from Loving family and Community, She sees a different perspective.
The Nevis Maternal Health Fund is a local charity started by Dr Jessica Bardales in 2004 with a small group of dedicated volunteers / members. Dr Bardales has offered free screening and pelvic examinations on a Saturday, once a year since 2004 with the help of medical students from MUA and the NMHF members. While she has been doing her examinations some of the volunteers have been running a ‘Good as New’ stall and selling donated food items to swell the funds, which have proved to be very popular. The NMHF has raised considerable funds to enhance the health and well being of women in Nevis. Some years ago it was able to purchase a modern delivery bed and 2for the maternity ward. 2 fetal heart monitors for maternity ward at Alexandra Hospital. More recently it has funded equipment to diagnose and treat pre cancerous cervical conditions. It has also been helping enhance the hospital operating theatre storage and staff areas. The overall goal of the NMHF is the enhancement and wellbeing of the reproductive health of the women of Nevis.
Check out This beautiful Message That Jessica puts out there in this Moving video.
Once again, I am honored to help spread an important and neccesary message. My life will be forever changed, being touched by these powerful women.