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Pink – the color of hope

Seven years go Anita Rolle was diagnosed with breast cancer. She did not hesitate in seeking treatment to deal with the insidious disease, but she’s just now coming to terms that she survived breast cancer. Her mission now is to do what she can to bring increased awareness of the disease and the awareness month – October. She and countless survivors have a mission to help those affected by breast cancer through early detection education and support services.

With that in mind and with permission from management, Rolle, a Nassau Guardian employee, decked out the company’s customer service areas in pink – the international color associated with breast cancer awareness. In color psychology, pink is a sign of hope. It is a positive color that inspires warm and comforting feelings. The color gives the feeling that everything will go well or be okay. It represents caring, compassion and love as it is thought to be calming. The color pink also stands for unconditional love and understanding, and is associated with giving and receiving care.

Rolle, 43, decked out the foyer with pink banners and balloons, which surprised her colleagues as they reported in for work. They, and customers of the company, were bowled over by the display. It was the effect she was going for. She wants to increase the awareness.

“I wanted people to stop and take notice. People coming in may not be thinking about the awareness, but once they step in, the pink decor will bring the awareness of what the month is about and why it’s recognized. I wanted to give people a reason to pause, think and reflect.”

She said the décor helped to create an awareness of the struggle for survivors who have been through the fight – and persons who are recently diagnosed.

Rolle was in her mid-30s when she found the lump in her breast, went to the doctor, insisted on a mammogram, and it was found to be cancerous. Her cancer was caught early and she says the doctors have told her that her prognosis is positive.

“They don’t foresee any future problems with breast cancer, but that’s something you never really know,” said Rolle. “With me, I just have to maintain a healthier lifestyle that includes exercise and limiting sugar as much as possible. Coming out on the other side means living as healthy as possible.”

During breast cancer awareness month she said education continues to be key.

“A lot of people lack education about cancer and tend to generalize it. But every breast cancer, every situation is different. You and another person can have a completely different kind of education. And a lot of other people consider it a death sentence.” She and fellow survivors, she said, are proof that it is not.

But she said surviving breast cancer is a lot to take in mentally when you’re going through it.

“You’re focusing on surviving … and with me I had a serious thing about positive energy and who I had in my face, so now it’s about if I can help somebody – if my journey could help, give them hope, strengthen them.”

While she decorated the foyer with the help of colleague Jennifer Humes she said the finished room put a smile on her face and gave her a sense of upliftment. She hoped it uplifted the spirits of others as well. And that her fellow survivors walking into the company would be pleased that The Nassau Guardian as a company had taken the time to acknowledge the significance of the month.

Dressed in pink on the first day of the month, she said as a survivor, it means a lot when she sees people donning pink in their honor.

“For survivors, pink is a special color. Most survivors don’t just see it as just another color. It’s a color that actually speaks to hope, it speaks to life. And it is a good feeling when you see people wearing pink.”

As breast cancer awareness month begins, Rolle said for a survivor it means the importance of testing and retesting, not taking anything for granted, appreciation for life, the importance of good health and living each day as best as possible, being the most positive and the best person you can be daily.

“It gives you a renewed appreciation for life, once you’ve gone through breast cancer and survived. It gives you a new outlook and appreciation for life. Trivial things no longer matter. You don’t have time to sweat the small stuff,” said Rolle.

Surviving breast cancer, she said, has made her a more positive individual.

“I’m a more determined person now. Once I put my mind to something I do it. It’s just generally changed me in that I’m happy with the life that I’m given.”

As she looks to now give back, having become more vocal in letting people know what she’s been through, Rolle will host her first Sweat Fete, a breast cancer awareness fitness event, her celebration for a cause in conjunction with Perfect Fit exercise group, on Saturday, October 27 (rescheduled from Saturday, September 15) at Goodman’s Bay between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. She also said hosting it at this new date is more fitting seeing as it’s the awareness month.

Sweat Fete will incorporate a soca aerobics workout as well as health screenings, food sampling and the disbursement of healthy information during the three hours. Donations are $5.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Gennie Dean Caring & Sharing Cancer Support Group, of which Rolle is a member. The group’s mission is to provide spiritual, financial, physical and emotional support to women who are cancer patients or cancer survivors.

Rolle said it was her interactions with the group and fellow cancer fighters and survivors that impressed upon her to do her part to help others, hence Sweat Fete which will be hosted by fellow breast cancer survivor Rika (Rika C) Cargill, Hot 91.7 radio personality, with performances by female artists Novie Pierre, Bodine Johnson and Patrice Murrell. Sweat Fete attendees are encouraged to don pink athletic attire for the event.

And now that she’s opening up about her breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and survival, Rolle said she feels Sweat Fete is a part of her purpose.

“I went through it to help others and I realize now that I need to step out. I feel it’s a part of my purpose in being here and to be there for others and be more vocal about it. I also pride myself on being gifted in the area of planning events, so now I’m using my talents and resources to help others,” said Rolle.

As she reflects on being seven years cancer free, Rolle said she’s happy that she acted on testing and didn’t just push it aside. She also got tested for the BRCA gene, and learned that her cancer was not hereditary which also put her mind at ease, because she has children – a daughter, Ashley, 21; and a son, Ashton, 19. Despite that, she encourages her daughter to do her breast examinations.

It was in February 2011 that Rolle found the lump in her left breast. She recalled it being so miniscule that she thought her mind was playing tricks on her, and she asked her then teenaged daughter to check to see if she felt anything. Two days later, Rolle found herself at her doctor’s office – she’d heard too many breast cancer horror stories of lives being lost to the disease and wanted to ensure she was one of the survivors and able to tell a triumphant tale.

She recalled being afraid, but said that wasn’t a big factor as she made up her mind to do whatever had to be done and wasn’t okay with dragging her feet.

Two weeks after diagnosis she was in the United States getting a second opinion and having a lumpectomy. She then tackled the disease with chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“My focus was to deal with it and get it behind me.”

Rolle said if she had been told she had to remove her breast to save her life, that she would have done so. In the final analysis she did not have to undergo a mastectomy due to the early stage the disease was caught at.

She was given a 99 percent rate on the cancer not returning, based on pathology reports since her surgery. She said her doctors described the kind of cancer they found as “good cancer”.

Today, Rolle is thankful she insisted on a mammogram at her initial doctor visit. That insistence, she says, probably saved her life. She also encourages people to pay attention to their body and changes in it.

Since 1999, the breast cancer incidence rate for females in The Bahamas increased from 32 percent to 49.5 percent according to health officials who also estimate 300 to 500 new breast cancer cases annually; that 48 percent of women diagnosed with the disease in The Bahamas were under the age of 50 and that 44 percent of Bahamian women with breast cancer had stage three or four of the disease. In was also estimated that 23 percent of Bahamian women diagnosed with breast cancer carry the BRCA1 gene mutation which has been investigated by Dr. Judith Hurley of the University of Miami.

Shavaughn Moss

Lifestyles Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Shavaughn Mossjoined The Nassau Guardianas a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor.Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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