Dr. Vikash Chatrani (right) looks on as Assistant Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Brand Experience at Sagicor Life, Carolyn Shepherd (left) hands over the sponsorship cheque to President of the Barbados Cancer Society, Dr. Dorothy Cooke-Johnson.
After raising awareness about the impact of gynaecological cancers in Barbados for the past six years, the marquee fund-raising event, the Sagicor Globeathon Barbados, will be wearing a different face for 2019. The annual 5K run and walk will still be aiming to end women’s cancers but as the Sagicor Gynathon.
During a media briefing held earlier this week at Sagicor’s Wildey offices, Country Head of Globeathon Barbados and local champion for the cause since its inception in 2013, Dr. Vikash Chatrani, explained that the time has come to stop sugar-coating the truth and tell it like it is as the five gynaecological cancers – ovarian, uterine, cervical, vaginal and vulva – were referred to as below-the-belt cancers.
“I say ‘below the belt’ for the last time. I know it’s difficult to say gynaecological cancers and the reason why I say ‘below the belt’ for the last time because we need to stop beautifying or pampering it, or making it taboo. We need to use the words. We need to give honour and pride to the female reproductive organs and we need to talk about them with dignity and respect because these organs bring all humanity to life. Hence the reason for rebranding the movement. We are branding it with a name that resonates more with the cause for gynaecological cancers and hence the change in name to Gynathon – to end gynaecological cancers,” he said.
He added that the funds raised over the past six years have made the creation and equipping of a gynaecological care clinic at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital possible as well as the training of staff. Chatrani said that their work has not gone unrewarded but there is more to be done.
“The movement is working. Women are coming forward to get screened and they are having their pap smears. Parents are consenting to the HPV vaccine. Women are paying attention to their bodies, knowing what is normal for them and what isn’t. They are going to their doctors with questions – they know something is up and they are asking for the answers. They are being diagnosed, we are seeing them at the hospital, they are getting referred and the number of deaths are decreasing. Uterine cancer is the number one gynaecological cancer now, 2018 data. Our work has reduced cervical cancer,” he said.
President of the Barbados Cancer Society, Dr. Dorothy Cooke-Johnson was in attendance at the launch for the 2019 event which is slated for June 30 at the Bay Street Esplanade at 4 pm, and she drew attention to the fact that gynaecological cancers have been impacting women and their families in Barbados almost parallel to the impact of breast cancer.
With the gynaecological cancers not as prominent in the minds of Barbadians, Cooke-Johnson said that she would love to see the day that the two receive the same support from the public as both saw about 140 women diagnosed each year and close to 40 women dying from both.
“It is significant and it really is time that we took an interest in it and took a stand against it, and Sagicor has seen this need and is filling that gap admirably. And we will get the better of this with Sagicor and Dr. Chatrani who is now Head of the Department of gynaecological at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and moving it forward everyday.”
Assistant Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Brand Experience, Carolyn Shepherd delivered an address on behalf of the main sponsors and said that her organisation is pleased to assist in the raising of awareness of women’s cancer through education, outreach and community engagement.
“In supporting Gynathon once again as the title sponsor, Sagicor Life Inc., a leading provider of individual, supplemental, health and disability insurance, we hope that on June 30th many of you come out in your numbers to honour cancer survivors, care givers and to promote awareness about reducing cancer risks. This event is the major fundraiser that supports life-saving research and other programmes and services provided by the QEH hospital and the Barbados Cancer Society in the area of gynaecological cancers,” she said.
Participants can register for the event by buying their shorts from Cherish Supermarkets and Up Beat stores for $25 for adults and $15 for children. More competitive persons can register as timed runners for $35.