OVER 50 women from St Ann and St Mary communities received free mammograms courtesy of the Sandals Foundation to mark World Mammogram Day on October 20.

The foundation has also assisted in providing free pap smears for a number of women from nearby communities as part of its partnership with Ocho Rios Health Centre.

This is the second-straight year that Sandals Foundation is making such a donation to women in the region as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The initiative falls under the foundation’s WHOA (Women Helping Others Achieve) programme, which is a partnership with Bob Marley Foundation, and has reached over 1600 women across the Caribbean with support through health initiatives as well as education and skills training for pregnant teenage girls and capacity building for women in agriculture.

Marilyn Williams, manager of Jamaica Cancer Society Ocho Rios branch, praised Sandals Foundation for being able to assist the ladies in what she described as a very important venture.

“We were wondering where we would get help to finance the mammograms for so many needy women and the foundation gladly stepped in. For this we are eternally grateful,” the branch manager noted.

“Early detection is very important and many persons are not able to acquire mammograms, so making it available free of cost to them is very important at this time. We hope this partnership will continue for many years to come,” Williams added.

Sandals Regional Public Relations Manager Lyndsay Isaacs noted that breast cancer awareness is something the foundation takes very seriously and served as the reason for the over $200,000 contribution it made to the very worthy cause.

She explained that by facilitating both annual pap smears and mammograms, the donation will not only encourage the importance of early detection, but also provide a platform to educate and encourage healthy lifestyle habits.

“From dialogue with the Cancer Society we realised that there were a lot of women in our community who were not able to have mammograms because they genuinely could not afford it, and being good corporate citizens we were happy to step forward for the second year in a row,” Isaacs said.

Sandra Roberts, a member of the community who benefited from the sponsorship, was effusive in her praise for the foundation.

“I really wanted to get checked out but just couldn’t afford the cost at this time,” Roberts noted.

“When I heard that the Sandals Foundation was sponsoring women in the community I was overjoyed and happily carried out my tests. Now, I am so glad I did.”

Roberts said that too many of her peers were still afraid of doing their mammograms and hoped that she would be an example for them to start coming out and getting annual checks to reduce the fatalities due to breast cancer.