Cancer is the leading cause of death in this country.
According to Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Health, Dr. Joy St. John, data from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), the island’s lone tertiary care facility, indicated that between 2005 and 2009, cancer was second only to cardiovascular disease. Dr. John made the disclosure while addressing those gathered at the Hilton Hotel for the Cancer Support Services Annual Conference under the theme ‘Living with Cancer: My Life After Diagnosis’.
Referring to worldwide statistics, the Chief Medical Officer pointed out that cancer is currently one of the most prevalent public health diseases, with approximately 11 million people being diagnosed annually and an estimated seven million losing the battle. The Ministry of Health Official also said that if left unchecked, it is estimated that the number of deaths will rise to 13.1 million by 2030.
“These facts and figures are extremely sobering. However, what we must not forget is that behind these statistics are ordinary persons whose lives suddenly take a new direction when they are given the diagnosis of cancer. Life after diagnosis not only affects the individual diagnosed with cancer, but the family and friends of the cancer patients,” she noted.
With that in mind, Dr. St. John said that it is important that support mechanisms are put in place for the newly diagnosed patients, but it is equally important that support is also available for each family touched by cancer.
“Some of these experience physical pain, denial, depression and anxiety. Families are also affected, and for many these can be very difficult times. We are aware that parents needs the understanding and compassion of their employers; husbands and wives need support from their friends and family; brothers and sisters need assistance and encouragement from their community. We therefore cannot underestimate the importance of the contribution of the Cancer Support Services,” she said.
Dr. St. John added that in spite of the statistics, cancer should no longer be seen as a death sentence, as new technologies and techniques have been developed that offer us hope. In fact, she maintained that these improvements over the years have allowed people to live six times longer after a cancer diagnosis than they did 40 years ago.
Meanwhile, referring to the work of Cancer Support Services, Dr. St. John lauded the organisation for all they have been doing over the years to lessen the burden that individuals and families face with cancer. She spoke specifically of their work with children, as well as the donation of equipment they made to Ward C12 and the radiotherapy department to improve service delivery and the physical aesthetics.
“However, you have not stopped there, and you have supported the training of healthcare professionals in pain management and hospice care. We owe much gratitude to your organisation,” the CMO stated. (JRT)
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