By Steve Thomas

Observer Nevis Editor

(Charlestown, Nevis) – A launch event is set for this coming Saturday, Feb. 9, for Pink Lily Breast Cancer Care Nevis, a group that hopes to bring prevention, relief and assistance to victims of the disease.

The event is set to begin at 7 p.m. at the Old Manor Hotel, Nevis. Organizers say it will be an evening of inspiration, education and entertainment, with a chance to meet volunteers and learn more about the organization.

The group’s founder, Lea Parris, a breast cancer survivor, will be there. According to information provided by Ms. Parris, Pink Lily’s objectives are:

– Raise awareness of breast cancer in Nevis

– Provide information and education about breast cancer including self examination

– Provide practical, emotional and financial support

– Provide quality cancer treatment and care

-Build a complete cancer unit in Nevis

For more information about the group or to RSVP, call 869-664-3306 or e-mail support @pinklilybccn.org

To help increase understanding of the disease and its impact on individuals, the Observer is printing several excerpts from Mr. Parris’ work, “My Breast Cancer Journey.”

Being told you have breast cancer can come as a huge shock but as strange as it may sound, I prayed that the doctors would tell me that I had the life threatening disease…

Not because I wanted to die but because two weeks earlier my mum was diagnosed with the disease and I didn’t want her to go through it on her own.

I felt that my faith in the Lord Jesus and the power of God’s blessings would give me the strength and courage to endure this disease and enable me to offer support to my mum.

I hadn’t really thought about the consequences of being diagnosed with breast cancer or what the immediate or long term future would hold, I just knew that I wanted to be there for my mum no matter what.

In my ignorance, I wasn’t really aware of breast cancer as no one close to me had ever had it.

It wasn’t in my family’s history and I most definitely never thought that I would ever get it; after all I was only 37 and as fit as a fiddle. I wasn’t overweight; I didn’t smoke and didn’t drink excessively. I didn’t suffer from stress and was generally in good health.

By the time mum was diagnosed I wasn’t concerned about me at all, my main concern was for her emotional well being.

I knew my faith in God was enough for me. I knew He would take care of me, enabling me to stay positive and happy in order for me to be supportive and to maintain normalcy in our household.

We had my little sister of 12 and my son who was 17 at home with us and I wasn’t sure what impact this news would have on them, furthermore my eldest sister 39 was in Nevis. I wanted to tell them all in a way that wouldn’t make them fear the worst because cancer has always been such a scary word…

My breast cancer journey began when I discovered the small pea sized lump in my left breast to the right of the nipple…

One night as I was routinely moisturising my body after having a shower I felt this little lump. I kept inspecting it and looked at it in the mirror, noticing that I could actually see it through the skin, even when I lay down I could see it.

I went downstairs to show my mum to hear what she thought and right away she showed concern. She examined the lump and agreed that it wasn’t normal. She suggested that I call the doctor first thing in the morning to make an appointment to have it examined properly, so the next morning I called the doctors and made an appointment for that same morning.

The doctor examined both breasts, paying extra attention to the lump. She said, she felt that it was probably just gristle and told me to just keep an eye on it, then to check it again after my next period. The doctor went on to explain that as I was just 37 years old, it was common for breast tissue to change and for breasts to be tender or feel a bit lumpy just before your menstrual cycle, it also wasn’t typical for young women of my age to get breast cancer.

I told her that I had never had a mammogram (breast x-ray), so she explained that breast screening was offered to Woman from the age of 50, as 80% of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50 and that the risk continues to increase with age.

I didn’t really feel comfortable about the lump as I knew this wasn’t normal for me so I expressed that I would like to have a mammogram. The doctor agreed to make an appointment for me but explained that it would probably be a month before I got one. With that I went home and waited for my appointment to come through.

As soon as I got home mum was there with loads of questions of what happened? What did the doctor say? Did I get an appointment for a mammogram? I explained that I had to wait for my appointment to come through in a month’s time. She wasn’t happy that I had to wait so long, so I reassured her it would be fine.

In the meantime, a week later mum was coming out of the bathroom after showering and at the top of the stairs was a full length mirror that wasn’t usually there, I had put it there to get a better view of an outfit I was wearing one night and had forgotten to put it back in its usual place.

Well! thank God it was there because mum noticed that she had a red patch on her right breast and she examined it closer.

She thought she must have been leaning on it but mentioned it to me anyway and asked me to look at it. I agreed it did look red.

In the morning mum’s right breast was still red so she called the doctors surgery and described the redness to the receptionist. The receptionist told her to come to the surgery right away and when she got there the doctor examined her and sent her to have a mammogram at the hospital.

The mammogram x-ray showed a shadow, so an ultra sound scan was performed which confirmed that there was a lump. Immediately after the ultra sound, a deep core biopsy was performed (this was where a small incision was made in the skin, a medical instrument was inserted and pieces of the lump was clipped away to be sent off to the lab to be examined. Mum was patched up and told she would have her results in seven days’ time.

Mum came home hours later and told me all that had happened that morning. She was a little concerned and a bit tearful. I put on the kettle, made her a cuppa tea and tried to reassure her that it would be OK.

A week later my mum went back to the hospital to get her results. I asked her if she would like me to go with her but she said no that she would rather go alone. Her results came back positive and she was told that she had Grade Three breast cancer.