Sister Sister Breast Cancer Group’s new president reaffirms group’s commitment to the fight


Tribune Features Writer


IT’S been roughly three months since the passing of its long serving president Andrea Sweeting. In the midst of mourning what has been a major loss for the organisation, Sister Sister is regrouping while reaffirming its commitment to fight the battle against breast cancer.

Taking up the mantle now is the new president, Shantell Hutchinson, who emphasised that the work will be continued.

Ms Sweeting, a long-time cancer advocate and warrior who assisted numerous Bahamians, died on February 10, 2024, at age 75.

While the organisation still mourns her, Ms Hutchinson said she along with her dedicated team will continue to blaze a trail in the fight against breast cancer.

“Andrea’s death was difficult from a personal and organisational perspective. She has left an indelible mark on the many people she encountered and we will always remember her for her passion and contribution to the foundation of Sister Sister,” said Ms Hutchinson

“The former and current executive team(s) are committed to working and ensuring that the vision of our founders continues to grow. Since the inception of the organisation it has been on a mission to empower and educate women to actively participate in preventative health practices, increase survival rates and improve the quality of life of those diagnosed with breast cancer and to enhance the public awareness about this disease.

“The organisation continues to carry out its mandate of helping those diagnosed with breast cancer through support and increased awareness of the preventative steps to early diagnosis and a healthier lifestyle.”

Sister Sister, she added, also continues to help though who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“By assisting individuals diagnosed with cancer, we are helping them survive this very difficult time in their lives, whether it is granting the port-a-cath, assisting with chemotherapy, radiation, PET, CT, etcetera. Sister Sister’s vision statement is to empower and educate women to actively participate in preventative health. Our mission is to provide supportive care, encouragement, coping skills, resources, strength and hope for all who have or had cancer,” said Ms Hutchinson.

“Since 2000, the group has grown in membership and outreach. This is a good and not so good accomplishment as it means more and more of our women are being impacted by cancer.”

As she steps into her new role, Ms Hutchinson wants the public to know that although its former leader who has been the face of the organisation has passed on away, the group is still alive.

“The group is very much alive and continuing the mandate set forth by our founders Dr Charles Diggis, Dr Locksley Munroe and Mrs Charlene Diggiss-McPhee. The executive team is continuing to expand and grow the organisation, assisting those in need. There is a lot of work to do,” she said.

The Sister Sister Breast Cancer Support Group was launched in September 2000 by Dr Charles Diggis and Dr Locksley Munroe as a non-profit charitable group for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Nurse Charlene McPhee, ably assisted by office staff members Francis Smith, Margaret Thurston and Cheryl Ingraham, underpinned the fledgling group until it took flight.

In October 2006, the Freeport Chapter of Sister Sister was chartered under the leadership of Pastor C Ann Grant of Agape House Ministries.

In addition to assisting with the mental and spiritual needs of the members, financial assistance is also offered to those in need through the purchase of the port-a caths. This medical device is used by oncologists to administer chemotherapy and is seen as the first step in helping women fight breast cancer. Monetary donations are also made to assist members with the cost of medication, medical exams, and some day-to-day necessities. Each newly diagnosed patient receives a gift bag containing information on patient care, a squeeze ball for exercising, information on prosthesis and the contact information of members of the group.

A variety of events are organised to assist with the raising funds. In September 2004, the late Sister Brenda Russell organised the group’s first Prayer Breakfast, with British American joining in as the major partner and sponsor. The Prayer Breakfast remains a big fundraiser for the group and is held annually in September.


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