SCORES of residents in Negril and surrounding communities benefitted from the Sandals and Beaches Resorts-led annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walkathon held last Friday in the resort town.
More than 30 team members from the resorts, clad in pink T-shirts with the message 'avoid cancer... eat and exercise your way to a better health', travelled downtown Negril and the Norman Manley Boulevard where they shared information with commuters on breast cancer risk factors and how to reduce these risks by maintaining healthy lifestyle practices.
Following the early morning walk, an aerobics session was held at Beaches Negril, where Fitness Pro, Ian Howell led the participants though various exercise routines.
The cancer awareness activity was supported by presentations from Sagicor and the Westmoreland Public Health Services with Iotha Rhynie, cancer disease coordinator and public health nurse sharing that "awareness is a key factor in early detection and helping to reduce the risks of breast cancer." In commending Sandals and Beaches Negril resorts for hosting the event, Nurse Rhynie also encouraged other corporate entities to play a part and help raise awareness about the disease.
Leading by example, both resorts' general managers were out in support and confirmed the timeliness of the initiative.
"I've lived in Negril for over 20 years and I've noticed that many people with whom I interact remain ignorant about the disease until they or their family members are affected by it. We believe this walkathon is very relevant in helping to generate awareness and public education regarding breast cancer; the basic information we share with someone can help them to be more proactive and might even save a life," stated Andre Dhanpaul, general manager at Sandals Negril
Beaches Negril's General Manager Adrian Whitehead said the event not only benefited the public, but also the resorts' team members. "Our team members received the opportunity to not only educate others but also maintain personal wellness by being physically fit and moving on from this, we plan to ensure we keep at it," he noted.
The walkathon, which is in its fourth year, is the only one of its kind in Negril and aims to not only raise awareness about breast cancer but also promote healthy lifestyles, which is a key factor in helping to reduce the risk of the disease.
Breast cancer is reported to be the most common cancer among Jamaican women and is becoming a growing concern across the Caribbean. According to the Jamaica Cancer Society, breast cancer is most prevalent in women between the ages 25-59 years and for every 21 women in Jamaica, it is said that one will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.