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Full House for Free Cervical Cancer Screenings

Sept. 15, 2007 — Every seat in the lobby was full, as were the seats around the corner; and women were spilling over into the upstairs waiting area at the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute.
Saturday’s cervical cancer screening at the institute on St. Thomas, as well as at the Charles Harwood Medical Complex on St. Croix and the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center on St. John, inspired hundreds of women to come out for a free Pap smear.
“We were hoping (for a good turnout), but this is much better than we expected,” said Lorraine Moorehead, executive assistant to the CKCI chief financial officer, and a volunteer at the registration desk.
The screenings, which were manned by dozens of volunteers from the respective health care centers as well as government and private volunteers, started at 10 a.m.; but lines on St. Croix started forming at 7:30 a.m. and on St. Thomas, even earlier. “One lady who was here said she had been waiting since 6:30,” said Moorehead.
Some 428 women showed up for a free Pap smear, the painless test used to detect cervical cancer: 208 on St. Thomas, 193 on St. Croix and 27 on St. John, according to Derrick Grant, Ph.D., director of research at CKCI.
The screenings were part of a campaign launched by Lt. Governor Gregory Francis and his wife Cheryl, in tandem with a national lieutenant governors’ initiative entitled “End Cervical Cancer in Our Lifetime.”
A successful collaboration with financial backing from the private sector, health care providers, the Department of Human Services, the Health Department and the Lieutenant Governor’s Office are the major reasons so many people heard about the screenings and took advantage, according to Grant. In addition, Grant said the lieutenant governor’s wife was passionate about the cause.
“She is dynamic and she gets things done. I think that helped make a difference,” he said.
Women of all ages came to the screenings, including an Anna’s Retreat family representing four generations.
“My mom kept hearing about it on the radio and in the news, and said, 'Let’s go. It wouldn’t hurt to be tested,'” explained Vivian Henry. Vivian, her daughter Sherese Potter and her daughter, 10-month-old Samayah Potter, were all there at the behest of family matriarch Louise Henry. Louise, Vivian and Sherese all said they are responsible about getting regular Pap smears, but others at the screening had not been so faithful.
“I’m catching up,” said 46-year-old Maureen, from Frenchtown, who declined to give her last name. She hadn’t had a Pap smear for two to three years even though it is recommended annually for women her age. “Too busy,” she said.
Twenty-three-year-old Alena Martin of Contant was in the same boat and confessed to “not following doctor’s orders…I guess when you’re young, you don’t know about everything, these kinds of procedures.” It was her friend, Elizabeth, who nudged her. “I told her, ‘Let’s go! It’s free, so let’s go.’ My co-worker was talking to me about her chemo-therapy treatments — she just got diagnosed with cancer — so I decided to go,” said Elizabeth, who also declined to give her last name.
Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women behind breast cancer, and is expected to claim some 3,700 lives nationwide by year’s end. If caught early, most cases are treatable. Health care providers at Saturday’s screening were encouraging women to make the Pap smear part of their annual routine and were urging women to avoid multiple partners, which increases chances of contracting the human papilloma virus that can lead to cervical cancer.
“It really was a great, great day,” said Marc A. Jerome, district health officer and acting assistant commissioner of health, from the screening site on St. Croix. “Now we have to build on it to make more people aware that this is needed.”
Awareness-building continues on Sept. 22 with territory-wide cervical cancer walk-a-thons, part of the initiative.
In addition to screening for cervical cancer, the Kimelman Institute is also holding a free prostate cancer screening on Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Grant said at a similar screening last year, 20 of 154 men screened showed “suspicious signs.” He’s hoping to teach people more about prostate cancer at upcoming public seminars on prostate cancer at Sept. 26 at noon and again at 6:30 p.m. in the CKCI auditorium.
Grant also said the CKCI would be happy to come into area schools to educate children about cancer and ways to prevent it.
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Sept. 15, 2007 -- Every seat in the lobby was full, as were the seats around the corner; and women were spilling over into the upstairs waiting area at the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute.
Saturday’s cervical cancer screening at the institute on St. Thomas, as well as at the Charles Harwood Medical Complex on St. Croix and the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center on St. John, inspired hundreds of women to come out for a free Pap smear.
“We were hoping (for a good turnout), but this is much better than we expected,” said Lorraine Moorehead, executive assistant to the CKCI chief financial officer, and a volunteer at the registration desk.
The screenings, which were manned by dozens of volunteers from the respective health care centers as well as government and private volunteers, started at 10 a.m.; but lines on St. Croix started forming at 7:30 a.m. and on St. Thomas, even earlier. “One lady who was here said she had been waiting since 6:30,” said Moorehead.
Some 428 women showed up for a free Pap smear, the painless test used to detect cervical cancer: 208 on St. Thomas, 193 on St. Croix and 27 on St. John, according to Derrick Grant, Ph.D., director of research at CKCI.
The screenings were part of a campaign launched by Lt. Governor Gregory Francis and his wife Cheryl, in tandem with a national lieutenant governors’ initiative entitled “End Cervical Cancer in Our Lifetime.”
A successful collaboration with financial backing from the private sector, health care providers, the Department of Human Services, the Health Department and the Lieutenant Governor’s Office are the major reasons so many people heard about the screenings and took advantage, according to Grant. In addition, Grant said the lieutenant governor’s wife was passionate about the cause.
“She is dynamic and she gets things done. I think that helped make a difference,” he said.
Women of all ages came to the screenings, including an Anna’s Retreat family representing four generations.
“My mom kept hearing about it on the radio and in the news, and said, 'Let’s go. It wouldn’t hurt to be tested,'” explained Vivian Henry. Vivian, her daughter Sherese Potter and her daughter, 10-month-old Samayah Potter, were all there at the behest of family matriarch Louise Henry. Louise, Vivian and Sherese all said they are responsible about getting regular Pap smears, but others at the screening had not been so faithful.
“I’m catching up,” said 46-year-old Maureen, from Frenchtown, who declined to give her last name. She hadn’t had a Pap smear for two to three years even though it is recommended annually for women her age. “Too busy,” she said.
Twenty-three-year-old Alena Martin of Contant was in the same boat and confessed to “not following doctor’s orders…I guess when you’re young, you don’t know about everything, these kinds of procedures.” It was her friend, Elizabeth, who nudged her. “I told her, ‘Let’s go! It’s free, so let’s go.’ My co-worker was talking to me about her chemo-therapy treatments -- she just got diagnosed with cancer -- so I decided to go,” said Elizabeth, who also declined to give her last name.
Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women behind breast cancer, and is expected to claim some 3,700 lives nationwide by year’s end. If caught early, most cases are treatable. Health care providers at Saturday’s screening were encouraging women to make the Pap smear part of their annual routine and were urging women to avoid multiple partners, which increases chances of contracting the human papilloma virus that can lead to cervical cancer.
“It really was a great, great day,” said Marc A. Jerome, district health officer and acting assistant commissioner of health, from the screening site on St. Croix. “Now we have to build on it to make more people aware that this is needed.”
Awareness-building continues on Sept. 22 with territory-wide cervical cancer walk-a-thons, part of the initiative.
In addition to screening for cervical cancer, the Kimelman Institute is also holding a free prostate cancer screening on Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Grant said at a similar screening last year, 20 of 154 men screened showed “suspicious signs.” He’s hoping to teach people more about prostate cancer at upcoming public seminars on prostate cancer at Sept. 26 at noon and again at 6:30 p.m. in the CKCI auditorium.
Grant also said the CKCI would be happy to come into area schools to educate children about cancer and ways to prevent it.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.