October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and The Gleaner has invited several stakeholders to be Guest Editors of a special edition of the newspaper. They will help bring into sharp focus the impact that this dreaded disease has had on the Jamaican society; the fear and often steely resolve of those who battle this illness; and the policies that determine whether they live or die.

On Monday, October 2, readers will be locked into this special Gleaner publication that these individuals, passionate about cancer awareness, have edited.

Today we feature the first of our Guest Editors – Yulit Gordon, executive director of the Jamaica Cancer Society.

Yulit Gordon brings to the Jamaica Cancer Society more than 30 years of professional experience that spans the financial, hospitality and telecommunication sectors.

As executive director, her primary focus has been on establishing the Jamaica Cancer Society as a centre of excellence through the development and implementation of key strategies such as research and advocacy for public policy that support cancer control and prevention; training and development; increased access to cancer screening; health promotion and the development of regional and international partnerships to support the mission of the organisation.

In her five years at the helm of the society, Gordon has grown the number of international and regional partners by 60 per cent and successfully secured the highest recorded grant funding of US$50,000. This achievement resulted in increased access to cancer screening and public health education for 2,000 vulnerable women from underserved communities across the island.

The society’s prostate cancer screening programme recorded growth of 230 per cent, with screening numbers moving from 600 men in 2012 to almost 2,000 men in 2015.

Relay for Life, the Cancer Society’s premier fundraiser, recorded its highest revenue of J$14 million in 2013 from which a Patient Support Fund was established to provide small grants to vulnerable men and women to access cancer treatment. In 2016, the fund paid out in excess of $5 million to aid vulnerable newly diagnosed cancer patients.

Caribbean Cancer Alliance

In 2013, Gordon played an integral role in the birth of the Caribbean Cancer Alliance, which later launched the first ever Caribbean Cervical Cancer Electronic Petition, demanding increased access to cervical cancer screening for Caribbean women.

In the same year, through strong advocacy, the Jamaica Cancer Society, along with its partners, the Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control, was invited to Parliament to present on why tobacco regulations should be enacted in Jamaica. These arguments and representations resulted in the passage of the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations in 2013, which saw the implementation of smoke-free public spaces, 60 per cent graphic health warnings, and penalties for non-compliance.

Under Gordon’s leadership, the Jamaica Cancer Society has been the recipient of several awards and recognition for its contribution to national development.

 

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