The Eleuthera Cancer Society (ECS) aimed to turn the island ‘Pink’ during the month of October in their campaign to heighten the public’s awareness of breast cancer, and to raise funds towards their efforts to support those on the island battling with the disease, as well as their push to encourage early detection and diagnosis through access to testing and diagnostics.
The Society’s activities across Eleuthera in October included showing solidarity with survivors and those battling cancer, with ‘Pink Fridays’ – where community members were asked to wear something pink, and share photos. Many businesses and even schools got into the mix – some with a twist – holding a pink socks Friday event, with funds going towards the Cancer Society.
Other events included community forums in Palmetto Point and in Rock Sound, where local medical service providers introduced community members to newly available mammography equipment and services – at the Family Medicine Center in Rock Sound, and at Bahamas Wellness in Palmetto Point, along with a ‘Bedazzle Your Bra’ night, where ladies who came out engaged in crafty fun. “So, we are happy to announce that, we have been fighting for a long time to get one machine [mammogram] here, and now to get two. We have so many women on the island that need to get their mammogram, so we are now more than happy that they [mammogram machines] are here, “said ECS president Susan Culmer.
She added, “This way it’s not just a once a year thing – it is something that will now be ongoing. The Cancer Society is committed, and now when we look at it – for the price of one mammogram when we sent women to Nassau, we are now able to get three mammograms done. So, we are able to triple our efforts of getting people tested. I think more people are now forthcoming in getting their mammograms, and realizing the importance of being tested – and early detection, as we say, saves lives. It is not a death sentence anymore, as long as you are tested early and it is caught and treated, many are able to make it through.”
The October activities culminated in the ECS’s Annual Fun-Run-Walk on the morning of Saturday, October 28th – which had been changed to a beach location event during the past several years. However, the weather this year, which was marked by very rough surf on French Leave’s Atlantic-side beach earlier during the week, left the location, according to ECS vice president, Ms. Jacqueline Gibson, “hampered with washed up ocean debris”.
As a result, one day ahead of the annual walk, the Society crafted a ‘plan B’, and took the decision to hold the Fun-Run-Walk at its legacy location within the Eleuthera Supply complex in the center of Governor’s Harbour. The morning’s updated route would take walkers and runners, not along the French Leave beach as earlier planned, but through the township, and along the picturesque west coast of Governor’s Harbour onto Cupid’s Cay, then on to the challenging climb of Batelco Hill, before returning to the Eleuthera Supply complex, to be greeted by a group of cheering volunteers.
The ECS Fun-Run-Walk again had a large turnout this year, with physical support from multiple entities on the island – from other civic organizations, like ‘Catch Jerry Chile’ – which also gave the ECS a considerably sized donation – from their fundraising efforts earlier in 2023, to a number of businesses and agencies, like the Royal Bahamas Police – who brought a team of participants in support.
It was said by ECS president Susan Culmer, once again, to have been one of the largest turnouts in a number of years with nearly one hundred people registered to take part, and a large portion of that number actually showing up on Saturday morning to participate.
ECS vice president Jacqueline Gibson welcomed Fun-Run-Walkers at 7am, with instructions and directions for the morning jaunt, along with, president Susan Culmer, who thanked everyone for taking the time to come out and be a part of the cause to assist those dealing with cancer and cancer survivors in Eleuthera.
As the sun rose, Police Superintendent Franklyn Neely from the Eleuthera Division led the warm-up session before the beginning of the Run-Walk, with a series of stretches, getting everyone ready to safely enjoy their chosen brisk or leisurely walk through the town and along the Governor’s Harbour coast. The local police force was well-represented on Saturday, led by current Chief Superintendent Jeremy Henfield, with a number of his colleagues on hand.
This year, several special guests and donors also once again traveled to Eleuthera to support the Eleuthera Cancer Society for a third time. Solombra Ingram, from women’s empowerment organization ‘I’m every woman’ supported by her colleagues from the Links International Group back home in California, brought with her $7,000 in funds raised by the international group to support the local ECS, which was presented to president Culmer on Saturday morning.
She commented following the presentation, “I think we had a very successful walk. I was surprised to see the numbers that came out considering all the other events going on on the island today, like funerals and prayer breakfasts. But, despite what else was going on, we appreciate people making the sacrifice to come out and support the cause, because you know that cancer is an expensive disease to fight. My mom is a breast cancer survivor – and prior to coming on the board, that was not so. But that just makes me even more determined to fight – when you know that people very close to you are fighting this disease – and knowing first-hand what the effects are. Watching people go through it – the pain, the burden and the support.”
President Culmer also commented that it was good to have Ms. Maisy Thompson back with them on the ECS team as administrator, “She has done a tremendous job in helping us, now that she is back on board with us full-time.”
During the morning event, a personal check in the amount of $500 was presented to The Eleuthera Cancer Society from member of parliament for Central and South Eleuthera, Minister Clay Sweeting as well. Administrator Thompson, describing the generosity of community businesses, schools – both primary and high schools, as well as civic organizations, from across Eleuthera, said that there had been ‘lots of support this year’!
The work of the ECS continues said president Culmer, “Awareness, awareness, awareness – every month, there is a focus on cancer. Next month is men’s health, with a focus on prostate cancer. You know the men don’t like to come out to be tested. Next week (during the first week in November) there will be free clinics. So, we are encouraging people to do that, as there will be testing for cervical cancer as well.”
Ms. Culmer added, “December will be our family time, with the ‘Music In the Garden’ event – which is our big fundraiser (To be hosted at the Cancer Society’s Wellness Center in Palmetto Point on Saturday, December 2nd, 2023). In January we recognize and focus on awareness of cervical cancer. So, we encourage our ladies to get their pap smears. We have been in touch with both clinics, so we will be able say – persons that need assistance can come into the clinic. The clinics will then bill us, and we will be able to pay for those services. We want to make sure that everybody has access to testing.”