Doctors have discovered breast cancer in its early stages in Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw, the St Michael South East MP revealed to her constituents this evening.
And the 42-year-old minister has the backing Prime Minister Mia Mottley and cancer survivor Dame Billie Miller in her vow to stay on the job and beat the illness.
“A couple days ago I was contacted by the doctors and I was told that they found cancer cells … the good news is that it is treatable because they have found it early,” she said in a passionate address.
But in an upbeat tone, the 42-year-old Bradshaw declared she would beat cancer and urged her constituents not to worry as she considered the battle against the disease no less challenging than her political foes.
“I want to give you the assurance we took on the whole Democratic Labour Party and had a landslide and Santia Bradshaw ain’t letting cancer get the better of her,” she said to loud cheers from the gathering at the Parkinson Resource Centre, The Pine.
Stressing that cancer was “not a death sentence” she told constituents that while she wanted them to be able “to hold my hand as I have held yours”, she sought no sympathy.
“I have seen the tears, I have seen the trembling, I have seen the fear, I want you to understand that I am so positive about this, that I hope that I can give you some of my strength.
“I believe that between our local team of doctors and our overseas team of doctors I am in good hands and I know that the prayers that have gone up for me and are going up for me are going to stand me in good stead,” she said.
Bradshaw said she now had the responsibility “to be the voice of men and women and families who are going through similar issues to be able to let you know that even as a servant of the public that we too fall down and be picked back up”.
Bradshaw also served notice that while out of office occasionally to undergo treatment, she would continue to keep up with developments in her ministry.
She told the audience she had a lot of work to do and would be returning to complete the job she had started.
On hand to lend Bradshaw her support was 25-year breast cancer survivor and BLP stalwart, Dame Billie Miller.
In a pep talk to the stricken MP’s supporters, the former deputy prime minister and senior minister reinforced the notion that breast cancer need not be a death sentence. “You have to have a steady sense of superiority over it, you absolutely have to.”
Tonight, the Prime Minister praised Bradshaw for her “extraordinary display of courage” and supported the minister’s intention to stay at her post.
“Santhia is going to be able to function normally for most of time and on those days when she can’t the rest of us will step in,” Mottley assured, while telling the gathering that politicians were not gods but human.
“You, Santia shall not walk alone… and I have come to give that commitment to the people of St Michael South East as well,” Prime Minister Mottley added.
Late last week, a leading advocate in the fight against breast cancer reported more women were being diagnosed with the disease, the number one killer of Barbadian women.
But with current early detection efforts, the number of breast cancer deaths was holding steady, said Coordinator of the Breast Screening Programme of the Breast Cancer Society Dr Shirley Jhagroo.
“The rates are increasing every year [but] the good news is that the mortality has remain the same over the last decade since the breast screening programme came onboard – it has remained between nine and 11 per cent – and this can be attributed to early detection, giving people more treatment options and therefore improved treatment and better results,” she said, while pointing out more women were coming forward for medical attention.
With one person dying from one form or other of cancer each week on the island, and breast cancer being one of the major causes, Dr Jhagroo has called on more woman to come forward for screening.