For Release – November 8, 2020
Jamaican Nationals Association of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area
Virtual Forum: “Cancer Awareness and Prevention in the Caribbean and the US Black Population: An Honest Discussion from Genes to Survivorship”
The Jamaican Nationals Association of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area (JNA), through the leadership of Dr. Elaine Knight, its President, and Rev. Dr. Noel Godfrey, its Vice President, has announced that the JNA-hosted virtual livestream Forum on October 18, 2020 has helped to inform the Diaspora more on cancer awareness and prevention. The Forum titled: “Cancer Awareness and Prevention in the Caribbean and the US Black Population: An Honest Discussion from Genes to Survivorship”
We’re often surprised on learning of the struggles that people undergo with various cancers. In the US, September is designated as prostate and ovarian cancer awareness month. October is designated as breast cancer awareness month. Consequently, the Jamaican Nationals Association of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area (JNA), has increased its cancer awareness and prevention efforts among the Caribbean Diaspora in general and to the Jamaican community in particular. A focus on these cancers is especially appropriate as the risk of developing them is higher in both Caribbean and the US Black Population.
This event was hosted by the Jamaican Nationals Association (JNA) of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area in association with National Cancer Institute’s grantee, the African Caribbean Cancer Consortium (AC3) Research Working Group. The African Caribbean Cancer Consortium is a broad-based resource for education, training and research on etiology, screening, prevention, treatment, and survivorship related to cancer in populations of African descent. This initiative is also endorsed by the Jamaica Diaspora Northeast, USA, whose mission reflects inclusivity, expansion, and collaboration among and within the Jamaican Diaspora and reinforces the critical partnership between Jamaica and its Diaspora for national development.
Special Welcome was Extended to:
- Prince George’s County State’s Attorney, The Honorable Aisha Braveboy who is the top law enforcement officer in the County, responsible for the safety and security of over 900,000 citizens. The Honorable Aisha Braveboy gave brief remarks. She is also Chair of Prince George’s County Multicultural Commission. Dr Elaine Knight sits on this Commission representing the Caribbean Communities in the county.
- Our Representative from the Embassy of Jamaica, Mrs. Andrea Dubidad Dixon, Minister/Deputy Chief of Mission
- Mrs. Marilyn Williams from the Jamaica Cancer Society, St. Ann and St. Mary Branch
- Dr. Franklin Knight, Emeritus Professor, Johns Hopkins University
- Dr. Damali Martin from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health whose leadership made this event possible
- Dr. Karren Dunkley, Jamaica Diaspora Northeast, USA Representative and to
- Caribbean organizations and cancer organizations.
The Discussion was Moderated by:
- Our Esteemed Sir George Alleyne, Chancellor Emeritus, The University of the West Indies and Director Emeritus, Pan American Health Organization,
- and by Dr. Elaine Knight, The National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health and also President of The Jamaican Nationals Association of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.
Our Distinguished Presenters were:
- Dr. Jarrett Johnson, Post-Doctoral Fellow, National Cancer Institute, NIH: Cancer Health Disparities in Underserved Populations
- Dr. William Aiken, Senior Lecturer and Consultant Urologist, The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica: Prostate Cancer Deaths & Morbidity in the Caribbean: solving this Public Health Problem
- Dr. Sophia George, Molecular Cancer Geneticist, University of Miami School of Medicine, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center: Breast and Ovarian Cancer in Caribbean and US Born Black Women
- Dr. Marshalee George, Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine: Access to Care and Treatment
- Dr. Camille Ragin, Principal Investigator, African Caribbean Cancer Consortium, Professor, Fox Chase Cancer Center who gave special remarks on the presentations
We were also honored to have our cancer survivor participants who spoke of their experience with diagnosis and treatment as survivors of this disease:
- Prostate Cancer Two Year Survivor: Mr. Cuthbert “Cutty” Braveboy: Director of the Department of Sewer Services at the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water)
- Breast Cancer Five Year Survivor: Mrs. Patricia Williams: President of Heart of Tabitha Foundation and also Xerox Community Involvement Coordinator, MD
Special remarks on highlights from the cancer awareness and prevention presentations were given by Dr. Camille Ragin. Key points from the following presenters are as follows:
Dr. Jarrett Johnson:
Dr. Johnson’s presentation focused on defining what is cancer health disparities. He presented that black individuals have a higher incidence of cancer and markedly, breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. Increasing awareness and education is needed not just involving researchers but also in the community. Cervical cancer mortality is also particularly high in the Caribbean.
Dr. William Aiken:
Dr. William Aiken’s focus was on prostate cancer in the US and Caribbean. The prostate cancer mortality rate in the Caribbean is the second highest in the world.
There are two types of prostate cancer:
- Indolent type where the patient my may not die from this type of disease.
- Aggressive type where there is need to focus research on this type of disease.
Some reasons for high mortality of prostate cancer in the black men in the Caribbean:
- Lack of awareness
- Fear of diagnosis
- Lack of resources in terms of specialist in the Caribbean countries that may not be fully equipped to handle the disease
- Sociocultural and other environmental influences: We should go to meet those men where they are in order to be able to help impact and promote awareness about prostate cancer.
The importance of increasing awareness and education should be emphasized in the community.
Dr. Sophia George:
Dr. Sophia George’s presentation focused on breast and ovarian cancer. There are four types of breast cancer. Triple negative breast cancer disproportionately affects black women. Ovarian cancer has many subtypes including aggressive type
Black and African American women are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 40. African American women have the highest death rate of all racial and ethnic groups and are more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. Genetic mutation contributes to the aggressive types of breast and ovarian cancers. In the Caribbean, genetic mutation more commonly found in the Bahamas and some of the other islands found in breast cancer. We need to pay attention and need to do more research to be able to better understand the detrimental effects of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Dr. Sophia George emphasized the importance of sharing information about cancer, including sharing with family, understanding family history, and understanding how cancer relates to your risk. The more we share and understand family history risk of breast and ovarian cancer so that we are better equipped to go after the preventative procedures or ensure that we are screening to reduce our risks of breast and ovarian cancer.
Dr. Marshalee George:
Dr. Marshalee emphasized that 1 out of 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. 82 to 85% of breast cancer diagnosed is not related to family history. 5 to 10% of breast cancer are linked to inherited gene mutations. We should follow through with breast cancer screening mammography and be aware of the different types of screening procedures that will help to improve the doctor’s ability with diagnosis. Black women tend to have dense breast tissue compared to other racial groups and there are additional screening tools to help with diagnosis.
Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death among African American women, surpassed only by lung cancer.
White women are more likely to be diagnosed from breast cancer , however in women under 45 breast cancer is more common in African American women.
Dr Ragin stated that this is useful information to apply and share with your family and friends.
To help address cancer in our community, it is important that researchers partner with community organizations so that they can educate the community so that they in turn can help address cancer in our community.
Sir George Alleyne: Co-moderator:
Our co-moderator, Sir George Alleyne thanked the presenters for the richness and relevance of their presentations. “This was a rich program with tremendous amount of information that is of practical value.”
During the forum, our JNA volunteers highlighted their work in the community. In October 2019, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, JNA conducted a Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign and walk to bring awareness to the community within the Silver Spring, Maryland area. JNA’s Cultural Heritage and Social Activities Committee and the Community Service & Development Committee organized the event. During the event, the association received a variety of donated items that were used to make comfy chemo care packages. The items were donated to the Unity Health Care, located in Washington, DC and the Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring, MD.
JNA established a Partnership with the Jamaican Cancer Society (JCS) St. Ann and St. Mary branch in January 2019. As an organization, we are committed to doing all we can, joining forces with organizations fighting against cancer here in the USA and in Jamaica. In 2019, a team of JNA members went to Jamaica and participated in the Jamaica Cancer Society St. Ann and St. Mary Branch Relay for Life that was held on June 29, 2019 at the Turtle River Park, Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
Remarks were given by Honorable Mrs. Norma Walters, Custos Rotulorum of St. Ann, Mrs. Yulit Gordon, Executive Director of Jamaica Cancer Society, Mrs. Marilyn Williams, Branch Manager, Jamaica Cancer Society, St. Ann and St. Mary Branch and yours truly, representing JNA as President.
In continuation of our partnership, donation from JNA was made in support of the health initiative to find a cure for cancer by focusing on increased cancer education, advocacy, screening, and treatment.
Towards the end of the event, a luminaria ceremony was held in support of cancer survivors and in memory of loved ones who have lost the battle to cancer.
Reverend Dr. Noel Godfrey:
At the end of the forum, closing remarks were given by JNA’s Vice President, Rev Dr. Noel Godfrey where he thanked our special guests, presenters, our moderator, Sir George Alleyne, for their outstanding service to the Caribbean Diaspora. Special thanks also to prostate cancer survivor, Mr. Cuthbert “Cutty” Braveboy, and breast cancer survivor, Mrs. Patricia Williams for sharing their journey as they are our warriors and advocates on cancer awareness and prevention.
Special thanks to our Cancer Awareness and Prevention Planning Team: Doreen Thompson, Bobbi Rossiter, Crystal Wright, Chris Daley (Digital 2 Grow Media), Delores McKoy, Noel Godfrey, Moye Stephenson-Fairweather, Jennifer Wilson, Beverley Thomas, Jennifer Asher, Carol-Ann Boothe, Colin Boothe, Elaine Knight. Webmaster: Clovis Fiango
Please visit our event page on the JNA website, www.jnaofdc.org, for the bios of our impressive presenters
You may donate to the Jamaica Cancer Society on their website, your community cancer organizations, or visit our website at www.jnaofdc.org where there is a link to JNA programs that you may wish to support.
Be a member of JNA – visit our website for a brochure on the benefits of being a member.
The Jamaican Nationals Association, Inc. (JNA), is Registered as 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit organization under name of Jamaican Nationals Association, Inc.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 56453, Washington, DC 20040