THE organisers of ICWI/Jamaica Reach to Recovery Pink Run is on a mission to increase the number of participants in this year’s 5 k fund-raising event by 1,000, setting its target at 3,000 people.

The 17th staging of the event, which is set for October 28 and is being held under the theme: ‘Tutus and tall socks’, was launched at the Courtleigh Auditorium in Kingston on Thursday.

“Last year we got to 2,000 participants up from 1,200 in that first rainy year, and we are looking forward to 3,000 this year. And hopefully we will continue to build this many, many years to come,” president of ICWI Paul Lalor said, adding that his organisation has been the event’s title sponsor for three years.

At the same time, Lalor explained that this year’s theme is in tandem with the event’s aim.

“One of our goals this year is to try and involve more young people, and the theme ‘Tutus and tall socks’ is supposed to bring out a little giggling, a little smile in all of us, as well as encourage youngsters throughout Jamaica to come out and participate. As we know, it is certainly a very important part of the fight against cancer, breast cancer, to get people at an early age to recognise the need that early detection is the best way to cure,” Lalor said.

Emphasising that cancer is not something to hide from, Lalor said it should be reinforced that cancer requires a community effort to provide help, both financially and personally, to those who are affected.

October is recognised around the world as breast cancer awareness month. This year’s theme is ‘Give Hope. Save Lives’.

Speaking at the launch Thursday, Yulit Gordon, executive director of Jamaica Cancer Society, said breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in Jamaica.

“According to the Jamaica Cancer Registry located at The University of the West Indies, breast cancer found for 29.4 per cent of our cancer with an incident rate of 43.1 per cent per 100,000 women, and for our men, 0.6 per cent. To put it in stark terms, ladies and gentlemen, for every 21 women in Jamaica, one will develop breast cancer in her lifetime; that is our concern,” Gordon said.

She said, too, that the extremely high cost to treat breast cancer has tremendous socio-economic impact on Jamaica and has resulted in many families becoming bankrupt.

“The indirect effect on productivity for those directly affected and also for those caring for those affected has also been quite significant. According to the Ministry of Health, approximately 300 Jamaican women die annually from breast cancer. This large number of deaths is cause for great concerns, especially since breast cancer can be successfully treated if detected in its early stage. We therefore encourage all Jamaicans to avoid smoking, engage in healthy lifestyle practices,” Gordon continued.

Pointing out that every Jamaican woman over 20 years old should conduct a monthly breast self-examination, Gordon said women should visit their doctors monthly for clinical checks.

“Let us therefore, ladies and gentlemen, be vigilant in making health a priority,” said Gordon.

Meanwhile, Dr Tamu Davidson, director of non-communicable disease and injuries prevention in the Ministry of Health, pointed out that physical activity is fundamental to a person’s well-being.

“We also need more Jamaicans to take responsibility for their health. We also need to work together as partners to ensure that we create this enabling environment… so this partnership and this launch is very critical and important in forming the catalyst or platform for moving forward,” Davidson said.

Davidson, who brought remarks on behalf of Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, explained that all sectors have to work together to create and support this environment.

Other activities for October, dubbed Pink Month, will include a breast cancer awareness month church service at Haven Hill Baptist Church today; medical symposia focused on the breast, which will be in Montego Bay and Kingston today and October 22, respectively; the annual ‘Keeping Abreast Luncheon’ on October 26 — the signature fund-raising event for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which will be held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, contribution is $6,000.

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