On September 17, the Abaco Cancer Society held a prostate cancer awareness meeting at the Angels Academy campus.
Three prostate cancer survivors and members of the Freeport group Us-Too, Dr. Andrew Moxey, Abener Meus, and Marvin Pratt, came to Abaco to present. Dr. George Charite and Dr. Norman Gay, two local doctors with the Integrated Medical Center, also attended the meeting to provide detailed medical information on prostate issues and on the importance of early screening. The Director of Medical Operations for the Cleveland Clinic, Mitchell Stanaland, also traveled from the United States to give information on medical evacuation possibilities offered by the Clinic.
Us-Too is a non-profit organization founded by volunteers in Freeport in 1990 to provide support and educational material on prostate cancer. Dr. Moxey, who has a PhD in Chemistry, explained that he would like to see a Chapter start in Abaco, a men’s support group, the goal would be to raise awareness about prostate cancer and about the importance of early detection. The men came to Abaco to help the Cancer Society get the message out to the men of Abaco.
September 17 was the third visit for Us-Too members who usually come at this time of the year as September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Dr. Moxey is hoping that men will overcome the first cultural stigma of rectal examination which is usually coupled with a blood test.
Us-Too organizes town meetings where men who had prostate cancer, widows, and family members of cancer victims speak out. Survivors tell the positive side of their story. Diet and lifestyle have been linked to prostate cancer as well as a special gene PCA 3, specific for prostate cancer, as mentioned later in the meeting by Dr. Charite.
After introductions, Dr. Charite addressed an audience of approximately twelve men, plus Abaco Cancer Society members and other people interested in the information provided, explaining that starting October, the second Tuesday of every month will be Cancer Screening Day.
Men referred by the Cancer Society can get free Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test and rectal examinations. Women can have pap smear and breast examinations. The same tests will be offered in Treasure Cay on October 29. Dr. Norman Gay will assist with information on anti-aging and proper diet and lifestyle, as well as promoting the importance of early detection. When the cancer is caught early, patients have 99% chance of 5 years survival rate; when the tumor metastasizes, the rate falls to 35%, explained the doctor.
Dr. Charite went on to explain the methods of detection and the various treatments. When caught early, he said, there is no reason why men should die. He then gave in depth details on the prostate gland and its role in the male body.
“Prostate cancer is the second cause of death among men after skin cancer,” Dr. Charite explained. He added that “if you live long enough you will have prostate cancer.” He also described the symptoms associated with prostate issues that should be checked immediately, such as difficulty and frequency of urinating. The PSA results should be 0-4. If it is over that number a biopsy would be recommended and according to the result a treatment protocol would be offered. Dr. Charite emphasized heavily the importance of early detection.
Stanaland, a Certified Medical Executive, who was invited by Dr. Charite to provide information on air-lifting possibilities in case of medical emergency, made a detailed presentation starting with his qualifications and those of the medical evacuation staff he trained from paramedics, nurses, doctors and pilots, to explaining how the service was provided from the pick-up of the patient to the care on the plane and his delivery at the destination’s hospital, in order to ensure no interruption of care.
The service offered by the Cleveland Clinic is not limited to the U.S., but also covers the Caribbean as far as Curacao, Columbia, and Panama. The cost of medical evacuation from Abaco to Florida is around $13,000 so he strongly recommended that people invest in medical evacuation insurance.
Dr. Charite re-enforced the importance of critical care transport, as there is no hospital on Abaco.
Us-Too has chapters not only in Grand Bahama, but also in New Providence and Cat Island. 10 men are needed to sign an agreement, said Dr. Moxey. In the United States funding is available to support the program with literature. In The Bahamas it is operated by volunteers but there are no fees to belong. Dr. Moxey said he has strong ties to Abaco, so he is passionate about seeing an Us-Too chapter opening in Abaco.
Veronica Saunders, the patient coordinator for the Abaco Cancer Society, thanked the presenters and the guests and explained the steps to follow to apply for free testing for both men and women.
Prospective patients will have to fill a form that they can obtain from Saunders at the Brass & Leather shop. People requesting free testing will have to be approved according to the information they provide. They should not have had a test during the last 18 months or should have a letter from their doctors justifying the necessity of being tested again.
After being approved, they should make an appointment to see Dr. Charite at Integrated Medical Center who will conduct the testing. Note that the regular testing now being offered is in lieu of the annual cancer testing clinic that used to take place in October.
For more testing information contact Veronica Saunders at 367-3643.
Cleveland Clinic Evacuation Service: 406 331 3377