Dorothy Phillips, Founder,
Faces of Cancer Saint Lucia
In 2010, I was diagnosed with cancer, a year after I had moved back to Saint Lucia. I returned to the USA for treatment. It was there that I realised that cancer was not something to be afraid of.
I would go to doctor visits and see other patients laughing and talking in the waiting room. It was not doom and gloom. Whilst in Georgia, I joined a support group. The experience was uplifting so I decided to bring it to Saint Lucia.
When I returned two years later, I started Faces of Cancer. I thought it would be a place that people could go to for support. The cancer clinic I had gone to in St.Lucia made me feel like I would not survive. I realised that education was not there.
People would say they have cancer and, when I asked them what type of cancer it was, they could not tell me. They did not know what the procedure was. They did not know that they should go to an oncologist and not a general doctor. I decided to bring greater awareness to the cancer patient. I worked with cancer groups, schools etc.
When I first started, people were afraid of talking about cancer. Now they know how to embrace it and deal with it. We aim to work with the cancer patient in her best interest. We conduct our due diligence and look at her track record.
Since 2018, Faces of Cancer has been navigating people to other islands like Barbados, Martinique and Trinidad & Tobago to get treatment because St.Lucia does not have the capacity to treat them. In this COVID-time, it is worse. We give them advice. We get no help from the government and so we depend mainly on corporate St.Lucia.
We also realised that the costs associated with treating cancer were very high. If one does not have the money in St.Lucia, they cannot get treatment. So, every year, we take care of one patient and cover all the costs for the treatment. This is costly. For example, we spent over $58,000 for a cancer patient in November 2019. We want to do more but we do not have the funds.
Faces of Cancer also conducts health fairs every October for four weeks. We do screening for prostate, cervical and breast cancer. We cover the costs of processing. Due to COVID, we were only able to have one health fair this year. We held it at the health centre in the community of Faux St.Jacques. We did not advertise because we wanted to control the numbers. Since we could not have four in October, we plan to have one a month next year.
Massy Stores St.Lucia is a large corporate sponsor for Faces of Cancer. The monies received from Massy go towards the cancer patient that we support every year. Other sponsors include CIBC FirstCaribbean and Sandals Foundation. The money we receive goes a long way to help us organise the health and provide medication and support to those who approach us for assistance.
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