Panel of health professionals speak during the Breast Cancer Awareness forum at the Cole Adventist Church in Sint Maarten, on Oct. 24, 2020. At the forum table L-R: Moderator Michelle Richardson, Nurse Roselyn Brookson, Nurse Rosalie Landford, and Dr. Ruth Douglas [Photo Credit: Latoya Gane]
U.S. Virgin Islands | NCC Staff and IAD News Staff

S abbath school leaders at the Cole Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sint Maarten wanted to shed light on breast cancer, a disease that claims many lives every year. A Let’s Talk About Breast Cancer Awareness forum held on Oct. 24, 2020 provided a haven for church members affected by breast cancer.

Every October, the church supports worldwide breast cancer awareness and research for a cure, said Patricia Flanders, Sabbath School superintendent at the Cole Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“We wanted to join this effort as a church to bring awareness and prevention of breast cancer and give a message to women as well as men so they understand that they must take care of themselves as part of preventing the disease,” said Flanders.

A panel of medical professionals from the church spoke to those gathered amid the blending shades of pink, the color signifying breast cancer awareness, decorating the inside of the church.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer affects 2.1 million women every year and is the cause of the highest number of cancer-related deaths among women.

The startling statistics shared during the forum reminded the more than 150 attendees that one woman out of eight has been diagnosed with breast cancer. “It is estimated that 42,690 will die of the disease just this year,” said Flanders.

Presenters and panelists urged attendees to take charge of their health and reminded everyone that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Two guests from the community shared their personal experience with breast cancer.

“There are many in the church who suffer from the disease as well as members who are still afraid of coming out and disclosing their suffering,” said Flanders.

The importance of breast cancer awareness in Sint Maarten cannot be underestimated, said Flanders. Churches on the island usually partner with groups such as Positive Foundation, Pink Sunset Sail by Aqua Mania Adventures, and TellEM to hold breast cancer awareness campaigns by wearing pink ribbons and organizing events to bring home the preventive message.

Church leaders and members have set up healthy food exhibits, offered practical exercises on disease prevention, provided spiritual and psychological counseling, hosted walkathons and special marches as well as floral arrangement exchanges in previous years. Because of the Covid-19 restrictions, the program was held for a few hours at the church, said Flanders.

Pastor of Cole Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church, Virgil Sams, thanked organizers for the special awareness program.

“I’m so thankful to the Sabbath School department for this program because [through it] leaders are bringing awareness to the church about the type of problems that we are facing today,” said Sams. “It is a work that must be exalted in this ministry and it must be replicated not only in churches but in the entire community as well.”

Sabbath school members made special cards with the inscription of Psalm 139:13-14 and included them in the special breakfast box given to all who attended the Sabbath school program.

This article was originally published on the Inter-America Division’s website 

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