The “Drive for the Cure” on October 31, 2021, was a fantastic way to close the month-long breast cancer awareness campaign. There was a large turnout for the motorcade which included cancer advocates, survivors, warriors, and supporters from both sides of the island.
The breathtaking motorcade of roaring engines of motor bikes and cars thundered through the streets of St. Maarten decorated with pink flags, balloons, and other decorative items. Participants rode and drove to raise public awareness and in solidarity with many lives touched by cancer. Creatively the Drive for the Cure idea was conceived by emerging our annual pink parade and bikers for boobs rally with the 10th Anniversary of CIBC First Caribbean Bank Walk for Cure, the region’s largest cancer fundraiser.
Globally, October is observed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year, 2021, the Positive and Elektralyets Foundations organized several pink events during the month of October aimed at increasing the awareness of breast cancer, encouraging warriors, survivors and those who understand the importance of staying in tune with their health, that getting checked is important in saving lives in our community. The events encompass screening opportunities, education, fundraising, fitness, and awareness activities.
The foundations kick-off event, the Pink Sunset Sail, was held on Saturday October 2, 2021. Each year this event, now in its 6th year, is organized by Aqua Mania Adventures and along with sponsors raised funds through ticket sales and raffles. Proceeds amounting to US$4K was raised to continue the foundations quest to boost Breast Cancer Awareness on the island of St. Maarten for research, screenings, awareness activities, projects, and education. New fundraising initiatives included the Full Moon Paddle hosted by Trisport and Clink for Pink hosted by the Amsterdam Cheese Shop. Schools like Montessori, Caribbean International Academy (CIA) and St. Maarten Academy PSVE also raised funds and contributed to the cause.
Education initiatives during October 2021 included breast and prostate cancer awareness presentations to the staff of Courthouse, FLOW, Port of St. Maarten, United Hands for St. Martin Association, the Women’s League of the Colebay Methodist Church, and an interactive breast cancer awareness presentation by Dr. Chobanyan of the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine AUC). The later event was recorded and will be replayed via social media platforms. The foundations along with support from AUC and Collective Preventive Services (CPS) felt that the presentation the “Risk Factors of Breast Cancer” was very important and should not be missed. Airing dates will be announced soon. The foundations also distributed, for free, breast and prostate cancer education literature.
Screening initiatives gave 206 women the opportunity to get a free clinical breast examination and 64 men to get a free prostate examination at the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC). These screenings, which were much anticipated, were conducted by specialists, nurses, and doctors from various departments at SMMC including general surgery, gynecology, cardiology, radiology, internal medicine, emergency room and urology who volunteered their time to assist with the examinations. Examinations were conducted on September 25 and October 23, 2021, with a large amount of pre-registered participants and small number of walk-in participants. These screening projects give the opportunity for student doctors of AUC to assist SMMC Medical Specialists, the community was offered free blood pressure and glucose monitoring and CPS and Ministry of Public health was on hand to administer the covid 19 vaccine. Screening is an important element in the fight against breast cancer and therefore the foundations have committed and partnered with the SMMC to cover the cost of 100 free mammograms for uninsured women on St. Maarten.
In the fight against cancer, physical activity is an important way in which we can reduce our risk for developing cancer. Therefore, the foundations always ensure that physical activity is included in its month-long campaigns. This year the Pink and Blue “Ya Gotta Get Checked Fitness was held on October 31, 2021, at 6 am at the Mullet Bay beach in collaboration with NAGICO, Monster Factory and Mullet Bay. Over 100 participants experienced a warmup exercise followed by a circuit of 10 training stations geared towards all fitness levels and abilities. Participants were treated to a free t-shirt, towels, sunglasses, refreshments like Smalta from ILTT and water, and apples from Divico.
Fitness Attitude, recognizing the importance of physical activity also hosted a Zumba Glow Session in collaboration with the foundations on October 29. Participants were treated to a spectacular night of Zumba with leading trainers like Learie and Nico and special guest speaker Bella.
The month-long breast cancer awareness campaign would not be complete if we did not pay tribute to and encouraged our warriors not to give up the fight, survivors and those who understand the importance of staying in tune with their health, the importance of getting checked and those who have lost fight.
Together with partners like Kooyman, Prime Distributors and the Colebay Methodist Church, warriors, survivors, those who are currently engaged in the fight and those who have lost the fight were celebrated, encouraged, supported, and remembered. Furthermore, we hoisted two “Get Checked” flags at two strategic locations – the Courthouse on Frontstreet, and Lexwell’s Attorneys at Law Office at Harbor View in Philipsburg.
The Positive and Elektralyets Foundations said that “While the pandemic has challenged our resources it has also dared us all to think outside the box. It has also highlighted how important and fragile our health is if we do not take care of ourselves. Many of us may have overlooked getting our annual physical because of the challenges associated with the pandemic, while some of us may have questioned why you should see your doctor for an annual physical exam, if you are feeling generally healthy. One good reason is checking in with your primary care physician can confirm that you have no underlying health risks that need attention. Or an exam may lead to an early-stage diagnosis of some kind, which means you could receive treatment sooner with better outcomes.
We encountered and overcame many challenges in executing 2021 events, but with a dedicated team of partners, volunteers, sponsors, supporters, and participants it was all worth it.” The Positive and Elektralyets Foundations would like to give a special thank you to all the partners, sponsors, volunteers, and participants for their continued support for the Breast & Prostate Cancer Awareness campaign.
In 2020, the foundations, embraced the challenges related to the Covid 19 pandemic, pivoting the in-person screening campaigns by introducing their Pink and Blue Faces poster campaign.
The Pink and Blue Faces are women and men in our community that have volunteered to be part of our ongoing campaign to inspire, stimulate and strengthen our call to action to help save lives in St. Maarten.
The women featured as the Pink Faces are survivors, warriors, and even one that has lost the fight against breast cancer. Through their courage and dedication to the cause and the desire to educate others to “Feel it, Find it, Fight it!” when it comes to breast cancer awareness, the journey continues. The Pink Faces remind us of those who have lost their lives to breast cancer, those who have survived it and those who are still engaged in the struggle against it.
The Blue Faces are also warriors, survivors and men who understand the importance of getting checked and staying in tune with their health as men. While prostate cancer is a huge taboo on our island, the foundations hope that “MAN UP and CHECK UP” slogan will appeal to the macho men in our community and start the discussions among men older than 45 years and their health care providers.
The Positive and Elektralyets Foundation is calling our entire community to action to “GET CHECKED!” as breast nor prostate cancer does not discriminate, and it could affect the ones we hold dear to our hearts. Help us help our community and let us be proactive in the fight against Breast and Prostate Cancer and stand together as one to help save lives!
The breast cancer awareness movement launched in 1998 by the Positive Foundation has collaborated with the Elektralyets Foundation for over 10 years in the fight to save lives with its early detection messaging.
The prostate cancer awareness campaign launched in 2019 by the Positive Foundation, Elektralyets Foundation, and the St. Maarten Medical Center.