Barbados could have a hospice for breast cancer management and care by 2017, obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Shirley Hanoman-Jhagroo has revealed.
Delivering a Library Service Lecture on Breast Cancer Awareness at the Fairchild Street institution recently, Dr Jhagroo revealed that the country was in need of better facilities for the treatment of the disease, which is the number one killer of women worldwide.
“What we are trying to do by this time in 2017 for sure is going to be a hospice and it is going to be up in St David’s. The land was donated by the Living Water Community and there is a group from the States that has joined and partnered with them and I saw the plan and it is going to be beautiful.
“Hopefully we will be able to take some of those patients into the hospice there and they will die with their dignity,” she told an audience of mostly women.
The facility is being constructed by a non-governmental organisation and Dr Jhagroo noted that while it will not be free of cost like C12 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, it will be beneficial to patients.
With Barbados recording two to three new breast cancer cases a week, and one death per week, Dr Jhagroo who is also an oncologist is recommending that more be done to treat patients.
“Barbados has adequate facilities for early detection of breast cancer and breastfeeding [but] what is needed urgently is a cancer care institute; a well-equipped one, better radiotherapy and of course all the necessary chemotherapy drugs be available free of cost to cancer patients.
She said she also has a vision for the country where patients under age 40 are offered breast reconstruction at the time of mastectomy or lumpectomy.
“With mastectomy you remove the whole breast, you are not doing it for cosmetic reasons, you are doing it for medical reasons, so when insurance companies say reconstruction for cosmetics, no we are not going that route. She [a breast cancer patient] is aged 40, she probably will live to age 70 with one breast or part of a breast if she had a lumpectomy, so she has to wear prosthesis for the rest of her life.
“It helps her in her recovery period [and] for her self-esteem when she wakes up from surgery to find that she has two breasts, so that is what I am going to lobby for in January,” the doctor explained.
Despite the concerns raised, Dr Jhagroo said she is pleased with the country’s breast cancer awareness programme which she said had seen more women as well as men being screened.