In support of the Faces of Cancer Saint Lucia Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2017, the Medical Student Run FreeCommunity Clinic (MSRFCC) at International American University College of Medicine, Vieux Fort, conducted a breast health
awareness day (October 7th). The MSRFCC generally serves the local population as a screening clinic for common disorders such
as diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) under the public health theme “We Care and Care”. This day though they
switched to focus on breast health and diseases, by conducting an educational slide presentation that explained breast makeup, function and diseases. A video was also shown to help train people how to conduct a reliable self-breast-examination, followed by a question and answer session. Upon the request of 19 somewhat concerned individuals (of the 45 ladies that attended) they were transferred to the private examination room where senior medical students with advanced clinical skills, under the guidance of Dr. Barton. In the exam
room patients were also shown how to do a self-exam and practiced the techniques themselves.
Fortunately, none of the 19 ladies who underwent the procedure showed any physical evidence of breast cancer. However, they were informed that this did not represent an official diagnosis so if they were ever concerned about something after a self-exam they should go see a doctor. People were saying how very thankful they were that this free service was offered by IAUCOM, and how glad they were that they could learn why and how important a regular breast examination is. Many of them had questions regarding whether they were normal, and were relieved to know what to look out for. On that note, the “patients” were telling the medical students how wonderful it felt to put their minds at rest about something had been very concerned after reading an article in the Saint Lucia Times last year where they had learned about how common breast cancer was in the Caribbean and that it was much more common here than in the US,
(stluciatimes.com/2016/12/16/breast-cancer-two-times-higher-caribbean-compared-usa ), but scientists have yet to figure out the reason why. They also said that they felt good knowing how to do a self-breast-exam the right way and they would do regular exams as the medical students had recommended, as well as tell their friends about it and teach their daughters how it’s done. The other good news shared by the medical students was that when breast cancer is detected early and treated successfully you stand a better chance of being cured.
The medical students were also very pleased about both the clinical skills they had experienced and learned, as well as the cultural interactions they had with very accommodative and appreciative “patients”. It also made them feel good to help people understand the fundamentals of breast health and disease and how they could take control of the situation to benefit themselves proactively.
Due to the successful outcome of this public health outreach meeting the MSRFCC of IAUCOM plans to conduct another Breast Health Awareness Day during Breast Cancer Awareness Month on October 28th 10am - 2pm. All Saint Lucians are welcome to join us.
Dr. Patrick J Gannon, Executive Dean