By Jo-Ann Bradley
Six men from Grand Bahama gave up their weekend to offer information and hope to men on Abaco. Members of the organization “UsToo” visited the settlement of Cherokee Sound on September 4 and Sandy Point on September 5. On September 6 they joined with the Cancer Society of the Bahamas, two going to Sandy Point, two to Marsh Harbour and two to Cooperstown Government clinics.
The six men are: Andrew Moxey (Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the College of the Bahamas), Arnold Davis (Lab Manager for Rand Memorial Hospital), Sam Romer,
Pastor Abner Meus,Marvin Pratt, and Roderick Smith
UsToo on Grand Bahama is a chapter of a wider organization that started in the United States. The name comes from the need to let men at risk for, or who have, prostate cancer that they are as important as those suffering from breast cancer. As September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month, five members of UsToo (Andrew Moxey, Sam Romer, Pastor Meus, Marvin Pratt, and Roderick Smith) and Arnold Davis (who joins to help out whenever blood needs to be drawn in a PSA test) came to Abaco to talk and walk about, spreading the word to Abaconians about the importance of catching prostate cancer in the earlier stages.
One in every six men will develop prostate cancer during his lifetime.
Men of African heritage are 50% more likely to develop prostate cancer and twice as likely to die of prostate cancer than men of other racial/ethnic groups.
Three of the UsToo group joined two men and four women in the Cherokee Sound community center Thursday night to share a message of hope and support and to urge screenings.
They talked about the PSA exam which is a simple blood test and the DRE exam which is a digital rectal exam, a simple and safe procedure that takes only seconds to complete with minimal discomfort.
The next afternoon, all six men were walking around Marsh Harbour handing out brochures about UsToo and informing people about the free Cancer Screening Clinics on Saturday, urging those in the “at risk” categories to attend.
Later that evening they were at the school at Sandy Point with the same information.
Because of their efforts on both evenings there were lots of questions, lots of answers and the possibility of a new chapter of UsToo starting at the southern tip of Abaco.
On Saturday morning, The UsToo men joined forces with members of the Cancer Society of the Bahamas and split into three groups. By 9am all were in place in each of the three government clinics to assist with screening men (DRE exams and PSA tests) and women (PAP tests). In Sandy Point 16 men and 24 women were screened. In Marsh Harbour 24 men and 43 women were screened and in Cooperstown 19 men and 30 women were screened. In total 43 men, and 97 women for a total of 140 people were screened without charge thanks to the Cancer Society of the Bahamas.
The doctors and assistants, all from New Providence, donated their time and expertise for this program. They were: Lovern Wildgoose (President of the Cancer Society of the Bahamas), Judith Higgs (Member of the Board of Directors of the Cancer Society of the Bahamas), Dr. Jacqueline Penn-Knowles, Dr. George Thomas, Dr. Justin Pintard, Dr. Saida Bowe, Patrice Watson and Jacqueline Gibson.
Dr. (PhD) Arnold Davis, Lab Manager for Rand Memorial Hospital said he volunteers to assist UsToo by drawing blood whenever they hold prostate cancer screenings. The first year they did this on Grand Bahama, 2011, they screened 98 men. The next year they screened 300 men, a year later in 2013 they were up to 600 men and they believe they will surpass that number in 2014. And the good news is that there is a goal to establish a blood bank on Abaco in the next five years.
Pastor Abner Meus is a plumber by trade and a Pastor of the House of Grace for All Nations. He said he was fixing some plumbing of the condominium of Don Mitchell (a prostate cancer survivor) and learned about UsToo. Even though he had just turned 34 and was not close to the age for a first screening (40) he wanted to help. He is especially effective in translating between English and Creole and he has translated a Cancer Society booklet on prostate cancer from English to Creole to help serve the Haitian community.
Patrice Watson is a member of the Cancer Society of The Bahamas and is the Sales and Service Manager for Lowes Wholesale Drug Agency. She is a 16 year cancer survivor and wants “to give back” so she makes sure she is assisting at the screening clinics. She was posted to the Marsh Harbour clinic on this visit.
Dr. George Thomas, an Anaesthesiologist, is a native New Yorker. He had a sister-in-law who developed colon cancer at the age of 26. She was at stage 4 when it was discovered and sadly, she did not survive the disease. Three years ago, when a fellow doctor, who was Bahamian, invited him to come here he did so, fell in love with the area and stayed. He supports the Cancer Society of The Bahamas by assisting in exams in tribute to the memory of his sister-in-law.
Dr. Saida Bowe, an OBGYN, is concerned about the high incidence of cancer in The Bahamas and joins the group every year since 2008 to help catch the early stages where people have the greatest chance for survival. She is hoping to bring this effort to Eleuthera as well.
Jacqueline Gibson works for the Cancer Society of The Bahamas as a receptionist. She was delighted to help out and found that all the people screened were attentive, and grateful for the free service.
Dr. Justin Pintard said that cancer is a “real problem” in the Bahamas and taking PAP and DRE exams in clinics like this is one way to give back to The Bahamas. He said, “Cancer affects every Bahamian, it either touches someone you know, or it touches you. Show your love for your people and take care of your health.”