“Health is the highest right of an individual,” President Hilda Heine remarked at the Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Tea Party where supporters and survivors filled up
Marshall Islands Resort’s Lomalo Room with strength, tears and a lot of pink.
Heine recounted the story of women coming together to raise funds and purchase a mammogram machine when the government did not have one a decade ago. Health is also an individual choice, she said, but it is important for all us to know where to go and what to do — that there is a cure, and we are so lucky for it.
“Rejan bwe jen loloorjake ro jet,” she appealed in expressing her wish for all women to continue their passionate advocacy and “making sure our sisters get the help they need.”
Health Secretary Julia Alfred was on hand and delivered highlights from a hybrid survey conducted on the risk factors of non-communicable diseases, which showed that 73 percent of Marshallese are overweight or obese, and only five percent consume fruits daily. While mammogram screening is recommended for any woman over 40 years old, only eight went to get checked up during this month of awareness that allows free screening for everyone. “Eight may seem like a small number,” said Alfred, “but it is better than zero.”
Cancer survivor Veronica Nika Wase was among the group present at the event. Wase sang with her cancer sisters the anthem of their long and painful journeys. “It took me eight years,” Wase shared.
People asked Wase why she is broadcasting, telling the world she had breast cancer — it is her way of giving back to the community, she said.
During her time, Wase focused on the positive side rather than moaning about going through chemotherapy and, eventually, having to lose one of her breasts. “I did the full cycle. It’s like a killer! I didn’t do radiation because I was strong enough to take the strong medications,” Wase pronounced proudly. “Come forward,” she urged. “Early detection means early cure. I will take your hands, and I will hug you and we’ll go together — don’t be afraid, there is a cure.”
The gathering was the first for the Marshall Islands Breast Cancer Society, Mejerik Club and Cancer Support Group.
Read more about this in the November 2, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.