The decision by Minister of Education and Member of Parliament for St Michael South East Santia Bradshaw to go public with her breast cancer diagnosis will help spread the message that the disease ought not be seen as a death sentence, said Dr Shirley Jhagaroo,
the coordinator of the breast screening programme at the Barbados Cancer Society (BCS).
The 42-year-old Bradshaw on Sunday 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, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer after discovering a lump in her breast a few weeks ago.
She also gave the assurance to her supporters – and the country – that the disease was treatable because it had been caught early.
This revelation, Dr Jhagaroo said, will help the BCS’ awareness programme and would give Barbadian women the courage to report any changes which they see during breast screening.
“It has done two things [as] when our programme started Barbadian women would not say anything when they had any changes in their breast… They looked at breast cancer as a death sentence. Now that has changed, women come forward and talk about their changes, about their breast cancer, and how they are alive today because of the prognosis. So, I know it will make a difference. It will help the awareness programme,” Dr Jhagaroo said.
Breast cancer is the number one killer of Barbadian women and the 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.
Dr Jhagaroo, a registered gynaecologist, said Bradshaw’s diagnosis should send a clear message to women to check their breasts regularly.
“For the women out there it is a message, a message for them. I am not saying that they should be over vigilant, but check their breasts and look for changes,” she said.
“We try to emphasize all the time that one has to be vigilant because early diagnosis can save lives.”
Bradshaw has said she does not want sympathy, even though she acknowledged the tearful reactions of some friends to whom she broke the news.
Still, her constituents and parliamentary colleagues are providing moral support, with sentiments ranging from sadness to best wishes.
Dr Jhagaroo, in adding her voice to the list of well-wishers, said this support would go a long way towards helping the recovery efforts.
“Be strong, have faith and be positive. She had a lot of support and support makes an amazing difference. She has a lot of support from the public, from her colleagues and all of the Parliamentarians. I think she should feel positive. All of the statistics show that people diagnosed with breast cancer that have emotional support can make a huge difference,” the BCS official said. (LG)