August 24, 2012
Save-A-Lot supermarket joins in fight against cancer

Fri, Aug 24, 2012

The Cancer Society of St Vincent and the Grenadines in collaboration with Save-A-Lot supermarket and the Ministry of Health has been spearheading a drive to encourage women to do their pap-smears annually.{{more}} This drive has been going on for the past six weeks and is now at its high-point as it will end in a month’s time.

The Cancer Society was approached by the supermarket, which wanted to make an impact on the lives of the people of SVG in the area of cancer prevention. The cancer society noted that there have been a significant number of requests for assistance for treatment of cervical cancer and that it is one of the most preventable cancers.

It is not unusual for the cost of treatment to be in excess of EC$100,000, in comparison to the cost of preventing the cancer, which can be less than $20 a year (when the smear is done at a public clinic, as there is no cost for the service, but $20 is to assist in the laboratory cost of processing the smear).

It was revealed by the Cancer Society that in many cases the persons diagnosed with cancer of the cervix can span from young ladies in their early 20s to women past their 50s, meaning that the spectrum of the most productive years are affected. One noted reason is that many women simply were not having their annual pap-smears done and only presented to their doctors when there were symptoms and thus were indeed diagnosed with cervical cancer.

The pap-smear is a procedure that seeks to find early evidence of the possibility of a cancer developing and is a well-established and inexpensive test. If suspicious changes are noted, medical and surgical procedures can stop the development of cancer. The latter is the reason why pap-smears are such a powerful tool in fighting cancer. Pap-smears are not routinely done to find cancers, but rather used a tool to prevent cancer of the cervix developing.

The management of Save-A-Lot Supermarket was excited to know that their monetary help can go a long way in preventing the development of cancer. It was established that educating the population about the need for women within the spectrum to have their pap-smears done annually was important.

The most practical place to have a captive audience was through the public clinics, which have the trained personnel who already see a significant proportion of the population during regular clinic hours. To further encourage women to get the smears done, Save-A-Lot has paid for the processing of 300 pap-smears, which has been evenly distributed to all public clinics throughout the state, so that approximately eight (8) ‘first come, first served’ persons would not have to pay for their smears. Many persons have been served by these free pap-smears, but many are still available to be had. Women are advised to go to their public clinics and request their pap-smears, along with available pamphlets with added information. If there are ‘free’ smears available you would not have to pay the nominal fee for processing the smear.

One significant quest of the of the Cancer Society is to remove the notion that pap-smears are painful, along with other bad publicity associated with this life-saving procedure. There seem to be many women in society who spread bad rumours about the reason for having pap-smears or what actually happens during a pap-smear. It is a fact that many who give false information themselves have never had a pap-smear done and are thus indeed preventing women from doing this world-wide accepted procedure.

The Cancer Society has applauded Save-A-Lot for making this most important gesture of providing the funding of EC$10,000 for this most important and cost effective area of fighting cancer. The management noted that it is not unusual to have frequent requests from persons for financial assistance to treat cancer, which, at times, is far beyond the capacity of the supermarket, especially in its very short period of existence, but noted that prevention and education are always good investments and that as the supermarket gets continued support from the population and grows, so too will its financial support to community of St Vincent and the Grenadines in other areas.

The Cancer Society encourages women to get their pap-smears done through private or public clinics annually, as recommended by their nurse or doctor, as it is a most important procedure that can save a significant amount of money, pain and indeed lives.

Women are encouraged to start pap-smears three years after first sexual intercourse, or from age 18 years (whichever comes first) and they should be maintained far into your old age. The procedure must not be stopped because you have ceased having sexual intercourse or making babies, nor is lifelong virginity a reason to not have pap-smears. (contributed by the SVG Cancer Society)