Co-founder of Breast Friends Carolyn Aziz is strongly urging all women over the age of 18 to screen themselves for breast cancer annually, in order to combat the disease in its earliest form.
Her renewed appeal comes one day after scientists announced that death rates from breast cancer have fallen markedly in Europe in the past 20 years due largely to better screening and treatment policies
Aziz asserts that women “need to be vigilant” if they wish to prevent the unrestrained growth of breast cancer; and according to her, all that is required to minimise the threat is a regular check-up.
This takes the form of an annual physical screening for those under 40 and subsequently, a monthly appointment with one’s local doctor. Aziz insists that this “needs to become a habit” in Antigua & Barbuda if we are to see better survival rates from breast cancer. She added, “If it is caught early, your chances for survival are greater.”
European countries such as the UK and Iceland have recorded the best survival rates in recent years, and Aziz said their success is a direct result of the awareness of the populaces and the availability of information relating to this form of cancer.
“They don’t let the men forget; they don’t let the children forget and they don’t let the women forget.” She declared, “you don’t have to become a statistic if you pay attention to what is going on.”
Aziz works through her two charities, Breast Friends and its sister organisation, Why Me? Antigua-Barbuda Cancer Society, disseminating information through their offices to ensure that Antiguans don’t forget the perils of breast cancer. When they’re not educating the public however, these two charities are busy providing support for embattled patients, and are even going green for the cause.
“Why Me?” has just received a global environmental grant and is currently in the process of building a 40 x 300 foot greenhouse and starting a farm. Aziz said, “We wanted to tie in the environment to our project,” because too few people understand “how important biodiversity is for prevention.” As a result, Our Green Isle farm will produce strictly organic products which will be sold on the market in coming months, and which will hopefully encourage Antiguans to eat healthy, balanced diets.
However, all of these endeavours are the result of systematic hard work, and the benevolent effects, which will be felt in Antigua & Barbuda, come at a price.
Asked whether her charities were understaffed, Aziz almost burst into laughter, “Oh God, yes,” was her response, as she encouraged charitable members of the public to donate to or volunteer with one of her charities.
She said that while she is assisted by a dedicated team who “work their butts off,” they would appreciate contributions of whatever size, to help relieve some of their workload.
Persons interested in contacting either charity for more information or to volunteer may call 764- 2561, or visit www.whymeantigua.com, where they will have access to a monthly newsletter.