Story Courtesy of Pink Lily Breast Cancer Care Nevis

(Nevis) – An audience of over 60 guests were touched, moved and inspired as they watched and heard personal testimonies about cancer and watched a presentation on breast cancer on Feb. 9 at a launch event to fight breast cancer on Nevis.

The evening at the Old Manor was to build support for Pink Lily Breast Cancer Care Nevis.

The event opened with a welcome from Lea Parris, followed by a prayer blessing by Pastor Cecele Brown of Gingerland Wesleyan Holiness Church.

Lea spoke of her and her mother’s discovery, diagnosis and journey with breast cancer and shared personal pictures in a photo gallery of her experiences.

Helen Kidd, former CEO of Nevis Tourism Authority, who was diagnosed with the cancer named Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 13 years ago, shared her personal experience on not one diagnosis with the disease but experienced its progression and underwent Stem Cell Harvest as a part of a life saving treatment.

The audience was moved by a TV interview with Civilla (Omelda) Dasent-Tross who lost her fight against breast cancer less than two years ago. Mackie Tross contributed the use of the moving footage of his wife.

Health educator Shirley Wilkes expressed her support of Pink Lily and shared practical ways in which we can lessen the risks and burden of illness and spoke of the need of health insurance.

Ms. Parris gave a presentation about The Pink Lily Breast Cancer Care Charitable organization and its vision to build a cancer unit at the Alexandra Hospital and provide quality cancer care for women and men living in Nevis, in the way of raising awareness of breast cancer, offering practical and emotional support to cancer sufferers, survivors and their families and fundraising to build and develop the charity and raise enough funds to donate a cancer unit to the Alexandra Hospital.

Over EC $4,000 was generously donated by members of the audience of the Pink Lily launch event at the weekend.

Lea will be holding a Pink Lily meeting on Monday, Feb. 18 at the Pond Hill Community Centre at 7 p.m. and invites all those who want to become involved with Pink Lily as volunteers, members or committee members.

Lea can be contacted on 1 869 669 8954 or emailed at support@pinklilybccn.org

(In this excerpt from “My Breast Cancer Journey,” Ms. Parris, having learned that her mother has breast cancer, goes to get the results of her own mammogram.)

About 20 minutes later my name was called by a nurse and I was escorted to a room.

As the door opened I saw the patchwork waistcoat and I knew instinctively that the results I would be getting were not going to be a good one.

In the company of the grim reaper (who turned out to be a Breast care key worker) the doctor who I had never met before, introduced himself as my surgeon then introduced the key worker, Mary. He went on to say “Do you know why your here?” Hearing this, I felt myself feel like saying “Dear, to get my results, why else would I be here?” (As if I was a teenager who was being spoken to like I was stupid). But I switched back my thoughts to being an adult and I politely replied.

The doctor told me that the lump that was in my left breast was cancerous, explained its position and grade (speaking a medical language that meant very little and was hard to comprehend) and that I would need to undergo surgery and treatment to remove the tumor and kill any cancer cells.

While he was talking I felt my mind wandering off and thinking about how he was giving me this information. I felt his manner was not really warm or reassuring and his face was not hopeful or pleasant looking but as he went on to describe the surgery that he would perform on me, I felt my attention return.

He told me he would perform a lumpectomy (and that was to remove the tumor and some additional tissue around it). He described the expected appearance of the breast after surgery and this is when I began to ask questions.

I asked if I would be left with a dent where the breast tissue was to be removed from. He said there would be a slight dent and when I asked if it could be filled to make it look as it was before, he said he did not perform reconstructive surgery and that he only performed surgery to remove the tumors.

When the doctor had finished explaining everything to me, he asked me if I had any other questions. I thought of two: Was this life threatening and will this affect my fertility?

The doctor explained that the treatment planned was to get rid of the cancer, therefore saving my life and that there were possibilities of my fertility being affected by the treatment and there was a possibility that I wouldn’t be able to have more children.

Alarm bells rang – “I might not be able to have more children”.

The surgeon concluded our meeting and said Mary would answer any further questions I may have and that she would be there to support me throughout my treatment.

Mary took me into a nicely decorated pastel green room with pretty pictures and a mirror on the wall. She invited me to take a seat and  offered me a cup of tea or coffee.

She returned with my tea and some booklets and leaflets. She sat down and asked me if I had any questions. Initially I said no and thought that I would be going home in the next 5 minutes or so but Mary went on to explain more about the breast cancer and to share different experiences from other unnamed patients and what concerns I may have. At first I just thought about going home and that I didn’t expect to be here this long but as Mary shared more, the more comfortable I felt and the questions started to flow.

I asked questions about my fertility. I explained that I would love to have more children when I meet the right man and get married and asked what were my options? I asked if I could have my eggs harvested. (My eggs taken from my ovaries, stored to protect them while I was having treatment) to be used once the treatment was over, when I was ready to have more children.

I expressed my concern about having a dent in my breast as I was a fitness trainer and my figure and appearance was important as I wore fitness bra tops and swimwear on the beach and I also felt it would make me very self conscious. I went on to ask what could I expect with the treatment and how would it affect my day to day life?

It really started to sink in, what the surgeon said and all that he had told me earlier was starting to make sense with Mary’s explanations of what I could expect over the next 12 months and that I would be on cancer fighting medication for 5 years.

Mary answered all my questions and concerns and said that she would make arrangements for me to see a fertility specialist and a reconstructive surgeon before any major decisions were made.

She gave me booklets and literature for me to take away and read that explained all about breast cancer, surgery, treatment and recovery.

Mum shook her head and gave a deep sigh and I could see tears well up in her eyes.