By KORTNEY RODGERS
BAHAMAS Waste is making the fight against cancer and raising awareness of the disease personal after unveiling its “big pink surprise” yesterday.
This month – dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness – Bahamas Waste has put a photograph of Hartley Strachan, the company’s Manager of Medical Waste, on its repainted pink truck to drive home the message to the public.
“This is an amazing day. We have a cancer survivor sending a message through our vehicle,” said Francisco de Cardenas, Managing Director at Bahamas Waste. “We wanted to raise awareness for early detection for cancer treatment. You cannot wait until stage four and expect to live. If you have symptoms and detect them early, there is a higher chance of survival.”
Mr Hartley, 62, is a two-time cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006 and after a three-year battle was declared cancer free. However, during routine check-ups earlier this year he was informed he had colon cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy and is on the road to remission.
“If I can help anybody by being on the truck I will,” Mr Hartley said. “The doctor told me that early detection is everything. I want to encourage people to get tested. If I can help someone to get tested then I’m happy to do so. If you want your loved ones around, get behind them to get tested. It’s a life saving test. My message would be to all women to get behind the men in their lives and encourage them to get tested if you care about them and want them around.”
At the unveiling of the pink truck, Social Services Minister and MP for Yamacraw, Melanie Griffin, spoke of the impact cancer has had in the lives of Bahamians and the importance of awareness and screening. She said she was pleased to be a part of such a worthy cause.
“Statistics indicate that in the Bahamas, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in females and was the third leading cause of death in females in 2010. I am sure that most, if not all of us, have a relative or friend or know of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and can personally understand the emotional and economic burden this can have on women and their families,” Ms Griffin said.
Based on research conducted in the Bahamas by Dr Judith Hurley of the University of Miami, Ms Griffin explained that the Bahamas was noted to have the highest incidence of inherited breast cancer in the world and that the average age of women at the time they are diagnosed with the disease is lower than those in the United States.
Ms Griffin said: “Early detection of breast cancer is ... critical for Bahamian women and therefore, the development of an inexpensive screening method combined with efforts toward setting new screening guidelines under the Ministry of Health, will help us to save lives within our high-risk population.”
Bahamas Waste also launched its “Big Pink Pics Giveaway,” which is a 10-week promotion inviting the public to take “selfies” in front of its pink truck as it drives around town. After the picture is taken and posted on the organisation’s Facebook page, one person each week is eligible to win a variety of prizes donated by some of Bahamas Waste’s clients such as Bahama Ferries, John Bull and Starbucks.
For more information about the initiative and the Big Pink Pics Giveaway, visit the Bahamas Waste company profile page on Facebook.