SOME 200 women turned up at the Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) to benefit from free mammograms courtesy of The Jamaica National Group on Friday, October 20, World Mammography Day. The initiative formed part of the JN Group's sixth renewal of the Power of Pink breast cancer awareness campaign.
One woman, 63-year-old Diana McDowell, said she journeyed by public transportation from Thompson Town in the hills of Clarendon to get to the JCS headquarters on Lady Musgrave Road, St Andrew, by 8:00 Friday morning.
"I got up at 4:00 this morning to be here. I took one taxi from where I live to May Pen, another to downtown Kingston and another taxi to the Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS). When I got here, there were more than 60 people ahead of me," she explained.
Noting that she has had relatives who have died from breast and other cancers, she stressed that it is important for women to get their mammograms done.
"It is important for us to know our status and take care of ourselves and get assistance in whatever way possible, because early detection saves lives," she said.
Speaking during an outside broadcast from the venue, acting executive director of JCS, Michael Leslie, also underscored McDowell's point, emphasising that women should get regular breast cancer screenings.
"We are grateful for the partnership with JN as they have been supporting us for many years and I just want to encourage women to ensure that they get their annual breast cancer screening, as this could save their life if breast cancer is detected early," he reinforced.
Carlene Edwards, head of promotions & sponsorships at JN Group, said although the company had planned to provide 50 free mammograms, a decision was taken not to turn away the additional women who showed up although the event had achieved its quota.
"We understand that mammograms are relatively expensive for several women and there is also a shortage of mammogram machines islandwide, which further compounds the issue, as many women cannot afford to travel to other parishes to get their mammograms done. And so, we decided not to turn away any woman who wanted to get a mammogram done, even though we were oversubscribed," she explained.
Each attendee was also treated to an informational session before being screened and provided with a goody bag and a refreshing drink, as well as other tokens after getting it done.
Edwards said during the month, the group will continue to raise awareness about breast cancer and facilitate donations from the public under the theme 'Take the Brave Steps'.
She is encouraging persons to also visit the JN Bank Half-Way-Tree branch in St Andrew each Friday in October to make a donation to the cause, or deposit money to JN Foundation savings account number 2094590587 online or in branch, ensuring that "JN Power of Pink" is placed in the description.
Persons in the diaspora can also donate at JN Money locations in the Cayman Islands, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
The funds will be turned over to the JCS to assist with cancer research and women fighting breast cancer.