‘CSS seeking to expand its reach’

A SMALL yet dedicated team of volunteers at the Cancer Support Services (CSS) have kept the organisation going strong for two decades.

With additional assistance from Corporate Barbados or anyone willing to donate their time or resources, President Kathy-Ann Kelly-Springer believes the organisation can touch even more lives.

Kelly-Springer explained the organisation provides countless services on a voluntary basis, though it is more popularly known for its PSA testing clinic, which attracted over 150 men in January to CSS’s Belmont Road headquarters and will be repeated on Saturday April 16.

She told the Barbados Advocate, while there are volunteers who give passionately to the organisation and are involved in vigorous fund-raising activities, there is a need for ongoing funding through partnerships, to keep these much-needed services going.

“One of our challenges is being recognised by Corporate Barbados, because persons are still mixing up the two charities. Because of the high level of confidentiality that the charity maintains, it is not easy for information to be shared to the public. It is up to our clients and speak on our behalf and say what the charity is doing for them,” she explained.

She noted that some of the services provided include grief counselling for those diagnosed with cancer and their families, assistance with nursing care, food grants through its Welfare Fund, a daily visit to Ward C12 at the QEH, a loan service of wheel chairs, walkers, hospital beds and bed pans to patients. Other services include annual school grants, public education activities and any other forum at which information about cancer can be disseminated.

The president revealed that an increasing number of persons are reaching out for counselling and there are doctors referring their patients to the CSS, all of which comes at a cost.
“Persons need the counselling to help them emotionally. Not only about treatment modalities, or medication but to be able to speak about their feelings to someone and not being judged for whatever reason.”

“Counselling has allowed some of the clients to get back on their feet, to go back to work, to deal with their family, to deal with relationships. But people don’t understand how important it is. It is a very expensive undertaking. But we have decided to commit because persons are able to then deal with their treatment, come off the treatment and go on with their lives.”

As it relates to the high turnout of men to the PSA testing in January, she said given its importance, this too is an area which the organisation is seeking to expand.

“We are beginning to see repeats, from the point of view that persons have put us as part of their health monitoring programme. We see persons sometimes twice a year. Some are prostate cancer survivors and they just want to monitor the test,” she said, explaining the nurse is also on hand to outline the importance of the rectal exam in their surveillance.
She said the importance of healthy eating must not be underestimated in the fight against cancer.

“If we can find a way to provide information, a dietician or nutritionist, to work with meal plans. A lot of the research shows that nutrition plays a major role in how you manage your cancer. A lot of persons are surviving their cancer, so we would want to make sure they know the right things to eat…all of these things cost money,” she lamented. (JH)

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