SEPTEMBER will not only be recognised as the month of prostate cancer awareness. It will also mark the eighth Walk for the Cure event held by the CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank (CIBC).
The event, held in partnership with the Cancer Society, is a 5k run and walk geared towards the awareness and education of prostate cancer in TT and will be held on September 14 at 4 pm at the Queen’s Park Savannah.
At CIBC’s office at Long Circular Road, Maraval, managing director Anthony Seeraj told Newsday the event is a fun one for a serious cause. “I’m always excited about the event, but this year is special. The funds raised will be shared with the (society) and Vitas House Hospice.” He said the funds will be used to assist with the testing and screening of prostate cancer by the society.
He said cultural icon Roy Cape, who is a prostate cancer survivor, will be a spokesperson at the event and will take part in the walk.
“We have a long-standing relationship with the (society) and we’re encouraging males to get tested. We’re proud to be in a position where we can contribute in a tangible way. Last year, Walk for the Cure raised and distributed $120,000. We aim to surpass this. We look at this event as part of our corporate social responsibility. Any true corporate will focus on health and well-being.”
He added that the 5k, which will be timed by Odessey Timing Company, and the walk will take place simultaneously.
Dr Asante Le Blanc said the society appreciates the collaboration with CIBC. She said early detection is the best decision and holds the best chance for survival.
“The (society) focuses on screening, testing, research including death with dignity at our Vistas House Hospice. We’re breaking the barrier but we need to raise more awareness of prostate cancer.”
She said that the PSAs (prostate-specific antigens) and the DREs (digital rectal exam) are two major testing services provided.
About men’s hesitation to getting tested for prostate cancer, Le Blanc said the homophobic culture in the entire Caribbean prevent men from wanting to get the exams done. She said people have to do their part in addition to being educated. “Doing their part includes no smoking, eating as healthy as possible and eating as local as possible, which means farmers have to be educated on the use of pesticides. Also, no vaping. People think it’s safe but sometimes those cartridges can be like smoking an entire pack of cigarettes. People love the smell of it but the chemicals that produce that smell are being burnt and that harmful heat is going down your throat.”
She said people may not think that prostate cancer exams work because there are no studies on the TT population concerning prostate cancer. “Healthcare is heavily burdened in the Caribbean. We’re becoming more proactive and less cure based but we still have more to do. So what we’ve done at the TTCS is track trends that we’ve seen regarding prostate testing. This is why we’re pushing for the cancer registry, to begin having concrete data on paper to show people.”
She said that though the TT banking industry is supportive and are continuing to do their part, the rest of corporate TT needs to walk the walk. She urged them to ramp up their efforts in addressing health issues. She added that insurance companies need to look at possible cancer preventative policies.
“We have a dedicated group of individuals in regard to cancer care in TT. Things have improved but we need more help as well as more oncologists. We need more celebrities like Roy Cape and true celebrities – the cancer survivors – to come forward and share their stories. We need men to get their annual check-ups and have a regular rapport with their doctors. This initiative is about screening and education on things like this. Let’s make education viral.”
She said the TTCS will be giving out 200 discount vouchers for PSA blood tests at the event where it will have an information booth at the event, as well as event sponsor Yoplait who will be distributing yoghurt cups. Medals and prizes will be given out at the event. All registrants will also receive a T-shirt at the event. To register, people are asked to visit fcibrunforthecurett.com.