CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Walk for the Cure, in aid of local cancer support group, Faces of Cancer, was held on Sunday October 5th.

The Walk for the Cure is in its third year, with the annual event being held in the 17 territories where CIBC FirstCaribbean operates in the region. Speaking during the welcome remarks, Portia Compton-James, Senior Branch Manager noted, “The CIBC FirstCaribbean Walk for the Cure represents a community coming together for one reason: to fight cancer. Throughout the region CIBC FirstCaribbean has rallied to assist cancer support groups in every territory. In St. Lucia we have partnered with Faces of Cancer which has been very active among our various communities. Faces of Cancer has been doing amazing work amongst families affected with cancer by providing health information, financial support but most importantly emotional support to those afflicted and affected.”

Participants of all age groups assembled at the bank’s Loan and Mortgage Centre in Rodney Bay and from there walked to Pigeon Point via Gros Islet town, and back. Hon. Alvina Reynolds, Minister for Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations, as well as members of Faces of Cancer and Dr. Owen Gabriel, St. Lucia’s only Oncologist, were all on hand to participate in the walk and lend their support.

Addressing the crowd after the walk, Dr. Gabriel, highlighted the importance of the activity and noted, “The world statistics show that every 19 seconds someone is diagnosed with breast cancer in the world. Our walk was about an hour and a half, so you can imagine how many 19 seconds fit into our walk; and every 76 seconds someone dies from breast cancer around the world. So this is a significant problem that we are trying to address in St. Lucia. Cancer requires a lot of investment, financial input and resources especially for treatment. Our goal is to try to establish early diagnosis for breast cancer.

We want to get women at the very initial onset of the disease, and the only way you’re able to do that is by early screening through breast self-examination and screening through mammograms. I am aware that the funds raised today would be donated to Faces of Cancer who will undertake a health fair in Vieux Fort later in the year, inviting women to come in for free breast checks. Research coming from Victoria Hospital suggests that contrary to the past 5 years, instead of finding women with breast cancer who are 55 and above, the majority of women we’re finding with breast cancer are now between 35 and 45 years. We have to encourage persons to have a health check and get into the habit of self-examining their breasts, with a clinical examination every 1-2 years. In this way we can reduce the incidence of breast cancer as well as its mortality in St. Lucia.”

He went on to note that walking and maintaining an active lifestyle are also important in decreasing the likelihood of cancer.

Juliet Simon, a 5 year cancer survivor and member of Faces of Cancer, gave brief insight into her journey as a cancer survivor and attested that her success was due in part to keeping a focused and positive outlook during her treatments. As a member of Faces of Cancer, Juliet Simon continues to share her positive attitude with other persons affected by the disease; motivating those afflicted to keep fighting and encouraging others to show support.

Recipients of medals for completing the walk in record time were Nicholas Clarke, Jonathan Allen, Timothy Mangal, Paige Nathaniel, Dr. Owen Gabriel, Sherma Phillip, Ian Nathaniel, Doshille Osman, James Prospere and Alwin Joseph.

In closing, Soraya Warner-Gustave, Senior Corporate Manager, emphasized the importance of the walk, stating, “Our Walk for the Cure today emphasises that we are here so that those who face cancer will be supported, that those who have lost their battle will not be forgotten, and our hope that one day cancer will be eliminated. Walk for the Cure is the way we choose to make a difference against this disease. Special thanks to our sponsors – gold sponsors: Ernst & Young; silver sponsors: LIME, Courts St. Lucia and Ti Kaye Resort; bronze sponsors: Sandals Regency, St. Lucia Distillers, Brawo, Sea Island Cotton Shop, Shawn’s Spa, Touch Therapies Day Spa and Blue Waters and our regional sponsor: Deloitte.

Fund-raising in support of Faces of Cancer and three cancer patients will continue until the end of October when a presentation will be made. The public is invited to continue making donations towards our goal of raising USD $10,000. They can do so by visiting any branch of CIBC FirstCaribbean. For more information on how you can show your support, kindly contact Tia Henry at 456-1110.

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