According to Positive Foundation President Shelly Alphonso these free examinations are a part of the foundation's annual breast cancer awareness month initiative and are meant to encourage women to have their breasts checked by a medical doctor.
"The best protection against breast cancer is still early detection, I cannot emphasize that enough, so along with doing monthly breast self exams, women should have their breasts checked regularly by their family doctors. This drive, the free clinics, is one which we have been doing for several years already and we see that the turnout is growing and we are grateful, because we know that this helps save lives," Alphonso said.
Alphonso also explained that women who had a history of breast cancer in their family were more susceptible to the illness and said that these women should pay particular attention to the health of their breasts.
"There is no way to determine who will get breast cancer and who will not, but there is data which shows that family history plays an important role, so this is something that our women on St. Maarten/St. Martin should also be mindful of. Visit your doctor, get checked and if your doctor determines that more investigation needs to be done, then also go and have your mammogram," Alphonso said.
This year the two foundations have also collaborated with the St. Maarten Medical Center to provide 100 free mammograms to women who need them, but may not have the insurance or funds to cover them. The patient must first be checked by one of the doctors participating in the free clinical screenings drive and if it is so determined will be referred to the medical center for further analysis.
The clinics, dates and times for the initial check-ups are as follows: Wednesday, October 5; Dr. Bryson Clinic, Dutch Quarter, 2-4pm, Union Road Clinic, Colebay, 10am-4pm, Friday, October 7; Dr. Bryson Clinic, Dutch Quarter, 2-4pm, Wednesday, October 12; Family Medical Center, Cay Hill, 9am-12pm, Dr. Bryson Clinic, Dutch Quarter, 2-4pm, Dennaoui Medical Center, Airport Road 4-6pm, Thursday, October 13; Doctor Zamora Clinic, Colebay, 1:30-2:30pm, Friday, October 14; Dr. Bryson Clinic, Dutch Quarter, 2-4pm, Wednesday, October 19; Madame Estate Health Care Center, Madame Estate, 2-4:45pm, Dr. Bryson Clinic, Dutch Quarter, 2-4pm, Friday, October 21; Dr. Bryson Clinic, Dutch Quarter, 2-4pm, Saturday, October 22; Bush Road Medical Clinic, Bush Road, 9-11am, Wednesday, October 26; Family Medical Center, Cay Hill, 9-11am, Dr. H. Deketh, Maho, 9-11am, Saturday, October 29; Bush Road Medical Clinic, 9-11am, Dr. Spencer, 10am-12pm.
All interested persons should call the clinics in advance and make appointments in order to ensure that there is space available at their desired times.
"Women should make use of this opportunity to go and do something which is beneficial to their health. A lot of women resist going to the doctor to get checked out of fear, but they should not let fear stop them. Not knowing will not protect them from this disease, but knowledge will. If they know them they can do something about it, make informed decisions and save their lives," Alphonso said.
She also reminded businesses at large that the Positive Foundation members had made themselves available to organizations throughout the month of October in order to give workshops on the issue.
"Businesses interested in raising awareness concerning breast cancer should contact us via our Facebook page or by calling me at 580-9658 to schedule an appointment for a workshop for their staff. I have said before, and can only continue to reiterate this, breast cancer awareness is a community issue and we must all do our part to help eradicate it," Alphonso said.