MESSAGE IN OBSERVANCE OF
BREAST CANCER AWARENESSS MONTH
BY MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE RONNIE W. SKELTON
We join with countries around the world in observing October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and lend our voices to the call to ‘band together for a cure’ for all cancers.
There isn’t a home in the Virgin Islands that hasn’t been impacted by cancer in some way, but in every cloud there is a silver lining. Each of us can make a difference in the fight against cancer by raising awareness, taking care of our own health and our loved ones, and contributing to organisations that serve on the frontline.
We can spread the word that cancer is largely preventable, and the chances of survival are greatly improved through regular health screenings, early detection and treatment management.
You might find it surprising that only 5–10% of all cancer cases are hereditary, whereas the remaining 90–95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle choices. As many as 30–35% of all cancer-related deaths are linked to diet according to recent research.
To give us a fighting chance against cancers and other chronic diseases, the Virgin Islands Health and Wellness Advisory Council is mobilising the entire community to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; moderate the use of alcohol; increase physically activity; reduce stress; avoid cigarette smoke and other pollutants; and get regular check-ups. By banding together we can support each other to make the lifestyle changes that will help create a healthier Virgin Islands.
We also know that some cancers can be found early, before they have a chance to grow and spread. If breast cancer is detected early, it is less expensive to treat, and far easier to cure. But the sad truth is there are people who are walking around with cancer and don't even know it, because they can't afford mammograms or other diagnostic tests. Some may even prefer not to find out, fearing that they cannot afford expensive medical treatments that could save their lives. That should not happen in the Virgin Islands.
Diseases like cancer do not discriminate between the rich and the poor, but the poor are more likely to die of cancer.
That is why this Government has made it a high priority to ensure that every person living in the Virgin Islands has affordable access to healthcare whenever they need it. The National Health Insurance System will meet the cost of approved preventative care, diagnostic procedures, prescription drugs, and specialised treatments that will help save lives. Persons that are sick will be able to focus on getting well, rather than on mounting medical bills that can lead to financial disaster for families.
I also want to take a moment to pay tribute to our relatives and friends who have lost their battle with cancer; to recognize all of the survivors; and to commend the many advocates, such as the BVI Cancer Society and other volunteers, who continue to work hard to raise awareness and raise money to fight this disease. We appreciate their continued efforts to support cancer survivors and their families, and their hard work in promoting prevention, early detection, treatment and care.
I also take this opportunity to thank the staff of the Ministry of Health and Social Development, our partners across the public and private sectors, community groups and other supporters for the hard work they continue to do to improve the health of the population.
Let us band together for a cancer free community. We are not home yet, but Jehovah’s light will lead us on the path that will take us there.