THE trauma of watching her mother endure the physical and mental effects of breast cancer has made Tamarsha Flemmings a passionate advocate for women to receive regular mammograms.
Earlier this year, the 28-year-old's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, a year after complaining about a painful lump in her breast.
“My family begged and pleaded for her to go to the doctor but she waited and waited and now it is too late as we have recently learnt that the cancer has spread in her body and we are really devastated,” she said.
Using her family's experience with breast cancer, Flemmings is now encouraging Jamaicans to schedule a yearly mammogram especially during October, which is recognised internationally as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“Test early to save your family stress. If you catch the breast cancer at an early stage then the doctors can save your life. My mother's cancer was found at stage four so it is inoperable so there is not much they can do… now they are just trying to use chemotherapy to shrink it,” she explained.
The university student said people should consider the impact that a breast cancer diagnosis can have on their families.
“I strongly encourage them to get tested, to save their family the heartbreak that mine is currently going through. We need to think about how families are affected by our indecision. When a woman dies a family loses a wife, mother, aunt and sister,” she added.
The cheerleader is also urging Jamaicans to register for the 2019 ICWI/Jamaica Reach to Recovery Pink Run.
“The Pink Run is very helpful for those who cannot afford the tests and treatment associated with breast cancer. It is a run that has saved many lives. You could be saving your life by registering for the run because we don't know what is happening in our bodies until we get tested,” she said.
Flemmings is a member of the Elite Odyssey cheerleading squad that has volunteered — for the third-consecutive year — to be part of the entertainment package at the event on October 27 at Emancipation Park.
This year's run is being staged under the theme 'Tutus and Tall Socks, Colour Edition 2'.
The almost two-decade-old run has generated over $10 million to help raise awareness and much-needed funds for the Jamaica Cancer Society's support arm, Jamaica Reach to Recovery. The entity provides emotional, psychological and financial support to breast cancer survivors. The organisation consists of volunteers, all of whom are breast cancer survivors, whose roles include providing information and counselling to breast cancer survivors and, by extension, their families and friends.
Registration is now open online at www.runningeventsja.com for individuals and teams to secure their places in the 2019 Pink Run.