Health & Wellness

Sweating & feting

People donned their sporty and pink apparel, prepared to sweat it out for a good cause at the second edition of Sweat Fete, a fun-filled family breast cancer awareness for a good cause with 100 percent of the proceeds earmarked to be donated to the Gennie Dean Caring & Sharing Cancer Support Group.

Sweat Fete is the brainchild of eight-year breast cancer survivor Anita Rolle who says the event is her small way of doing something to help others in need and cancer warriors who are going through the mental and physical battle with cancer.

Rolle said the event held at Goodman’s Bay on Saturday, October 5, was just her small way of giving back.

Two interactive aerobic demonstrations kept patrons moving, while they sweated in between the feting to the sounds of entertainers Karrington McKenzie, fellow cancer survivor; Shine; Alia Coley; Nishka and Novie (Da Riddim Band); Nita Ellis and a rushout with the Saxons Superstars.

There were also tons of activities to keep the children entertained, with something for every taste, including a booth manned by Rotaract, Nassau Sunset club members, where they accepted donations for persons affected by Hurricane Dorian.

Free health screening, food sampling and health information were all available on the day with health officials from the Walk-In Medical Clinic; with Colina officials handing out complimentary water to ensure that people stayed hydrated during the day.

Eight years ago, Rolle was diagnosed with breast cancer. She did not hesitate to seek treatment. It was just a year ago that she finally came to terms with the fact that she had breast cancer, and took on a mission to do what she could to spread an increased awareness of the disease and the awareness month – October. Now, her mission is to help those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education and support services.

Rolle searched for ways to give back and came up with Sweat Fete, her celebration for a cause in conjunction with Perfect Fit.

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. Because of her insistence, her cancer was caught early and the doctors gave her a positive prognosis. She said her mammogram and her annual physical earlier this year, showed no abnormalities.

During breast cancer awareness month, Rolle 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 her fellow survivors, she said, are proof that breast cancer is not a death sentence.

But Rolle said surviving breast cancer is a lot to take in, mentally, when 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 them, give them hope, strengthen them.”

Rolle said she plans for Sweat Fete to be an annual event.

During breast cancer awareness month, Rolle shared that for a survivor it means the importance of testing and retesting, not taking anything for granted, appreciating 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. Trivial things no longer matter. You don’t have time to sweat the small stuff.”

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.”

She is now of the belief that 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.

The breast cancer survivor did not have to undergo a mastectomy due to the early stage of which the disease was caught.

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” – if there is such a thing.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting women in The Bahamas, a country that is home to many islands. This is the first attempt to identify which island has the highest occurrence of breast cancer.

The results of a years-long breast cancer research released in 2011, showed The Bahamas with a high incidence of early-onset breast cancer with six distinct BRCA 1 mutations found in patients from cancer families in the country. The study was of 214 Bahamian women with invasive cancer, unselected for age or family history of cancer. They were screened for six mutations in the BRCA 1 gene that had previously been reported in cancer patients from The Bahamas.

The team – Talia Donenberg and Judith Hurley (Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami); John Lunn (Doctors Hospital); DuVaughn Curling and Theodore Turnquest (Princess Margaret Hospital); Elisa Krill-Jackson (Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center, Miami); and Robert Royer and Steven A. Narod (Women’s College Research Institute, Toronto, Canada) – found that a mutation was identified in 49 of the breast cancer patients (23 percent). They found the mutation frequency was particularly high in women diagnosed before age 50 (33 percent) in women with a first-degree relative with breast cancer or ovarian cancer (41 percent) and in women with bilateral breast cancer (58 percent).

The study showed approximately 23 percent of unselected cases of breast cancer in the Bahamian population attributable to a founder mutation in the BRCA1 gene – the highest reported mutation prevalence for any country studied to date. The result of the study was that genetic testing for the mutations was advised for all women diagnosed with breast cancer in The Bahamas.

Age, being female, obesity, and prolonged periods of oral contraceptive usage, all increase risk factors that can’t be changed, and pre-disposes a person to breast cancer.

The gold standard in testing remains the mammogram.

The American Cancer Society recommends women between ages 40 and 44 having the option to start screening with a mammogram every year; women 45 to 54 to screen every year; women 55 and older to screen every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms, and that screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.

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