A day after revealing her battle with ‘early-stage’ breast cancer, expressions of moral support are flowing in from constituents from St Michael Southeast for their MP, Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw.
When a team from Barbados TODAY visited the areas of Regent Hill and Parkinson Field in the constituency’s heartland of The Pine, sentiments coming from young and old residents ranged from sadness to best wishes.
Bradshaw told a meeting of her constituency branch attended by Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Dame Billie Miller at the Parkinson Resource Centre in the Pine last night that she had received confirmation of the cancer a couple days ago after discovering a lump in her breast a few weeks before.
But she gave the assurance to her supporters – and the country – that the disease was treatable because it had been caught early.
Breast cancer is the number one killer of Barbadian women and leading health care advocate last week noted an increase in the number of cases while death rates held steady as more women sought early detection, long considered by doctors to be key to complete recovery.
“You know when you hear about these things in life, it does bring a little sadness. It was a bit shocking when I heard it last night at the meeting,” said Ashton Newton, a resident of Regent Hill for 55 years.
His neighbour, pensioner Marceline King, hoped for her speedy recovery. “I prayer it is God’s will for her to recover and for Jesus to touch her and heal her,” King said.
But Regent Hill resident Patricia Brathwaite did not take the news well.
“I am not feeling good about it. That is the truth . . . it could be me too, you understand. Them things does hurt you. It hurt me . . . I [am] sad about it,” the elderly woman told Barbados TODAY.
A younger resident expressed surprise, but wished Bradshaw well. “I feel shocked, cause I didn’t even know. I feel real bad for her cause she is a really good person. I don’t think that should happen to her,” said Teandra Hinkson.
Another constituent, self-described only as “David” was also shocked at the news: “It was quite a shock when I heard it at first, but I know she is a strong person and we are all behind her.”
Over in Parkinson Field, Ronald Marshall, a “very good friend” of Bradshaw’s father, described her as “my girl”:
He told Barbados TODAY: “Santia Bradshaw is my girl. I would like she to get over [the cancer] as soon as possible.”
Bradshaw, who is also Leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly, insisted that she would not allow cancer to stop her from public service, and received her boss’s backing to carry on as minister and MP.
“So even in spite of everything that I have said to you, I am focused that I still have work to do. So there is something called technology and I am going to make full use of it with my ministry, my staff and whoever will be acting on behalf of me in the ministry at any point in time that I am away, because there are things that I have started that I must complete,” the minister said, adding that as long as she has strength after seeing this health challenge through, she will be back “to unravel more things and talk ‘bout them.”
Bradshaw said she did not want sympathy even though she acknowledged the tearful reactions of some friends to whom she broke the news.
Having nursed her father, former BLP cabinet minister Delisle Bradshaw through a stroke when she first won her seat and her ailing grandmother, who is her “rock”, she is well able to face this health issue in a positive manner, she told constituents.
“If I stand here a little too positive it is because I have walked the road of reading all the medical reports, googling all the terminologies, talking to people who have been through it. And therefore, I believe that between our local team of doctors and our overseas doctors, I am in good hands,” the Parliamentarian said.
Declaring that cancer need not be a “death sentence” if detected early, the Minister of Education told her constituents she will be flying out of Barbados shortly to undergo a series of tests and expects to return within another week.
“And so there will be periods where you are going to miss me from the floor of Parliament. There are periods where you are going to miss me from the constituency. There are periods over the last couple of weeks where many of you might have said you ain’t see Santia; well this is the reason why. And I don’t like to be in a position where I can’t tell my people what’s going on,” she declared.
Bradshaw is getting the full backing of Prime Minister Mottley as she goes through the various tests and treatments locally and overseas.
“I want to salute Santia this evening and to say what you have seen and is seeing, is an extraordinary display of courage,” Mottley told the constituents, who was joined by another supporter is herself a two-decades-long breast cancer survivor – Dame Billie Miller, the BLP stalwart and former deputy prime minister and senior minister. (EJ)