Cancer centre used by 100 since 2017 launch
More than 100 patients have benefited from radiation therapy since a specialist treatment unit opened at Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre last year.
Now the charity is gearing up to host its fifth annual Relay for Life fundraiser to help cover the outstanding costs of construction of the centre and to ensure patients can get the treatment they need.
Robyn Dickinson, BCHC marketing co-ordinator, said that by mid-March 112 patients had started treatment and 98 of those 112 had finished.
She said: “It’s been incredible. It hasn’t come without it’s challenges in the sense that we have treated more people than we were expecting to treat.”
Ms Dickinson added that the charity could only estimate how many people would need radiation treatment because there was no mandatory reporting of cancer cases in Bermuda.
BCHC has said in the past that about 300 new cancer cases are diagnosed every year — and about 200 of those need radiation therapy.
But only about 100 people a year were referred for overseas treatment, which left as many as 100 people without a potential cure.
Ms Dickinson said: “It’s been very busy, which is good. We have had no issues. And we would expect that — we are held to the highest standard of care.”
“We have a clinical affiliation with Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Centre. Everything is triple-checked.”
Ms Dickinson said the reaction of patients was also positive.
She added: “People say they think of their time at Bermuda Cancer fondly, not as a place that they never want to come back to.”
The radiation unit at the Point Finger Road charity, designed to supply patients with radiation treatment on-island, cost more than $10 million.
Ms Dickinson said Relay for Life — a 24-hour walking fundraiser organised by Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre and a team of volunteers — was the biggest fundraiser for the radiation therapy unit.
She added: “Without it, we wouldn’t be able to help as many people as we did. The money raised goes to our radiation therapy unit, which still hasn’t fully been paid for. We have another $2 million to go.
“It’s also to help people get the treatment they need — we help subsidise those patients who are underinsured and uninsured.”
She explained that most of the donations go towards the equal access fund to help people get radiation treatment or detection services such as mammograms, ultrasounds and breast and prostate biopsies.
Teams have raised more than $2.2 million for the charity over the past four years and this year’s goal is to raise $600,000.
Ms Dickinson said: “The theme is ‘we is greater than me’.
“It basically means that if we come together, we are stronger than if we fight it separately.”
She added: “So far we have about 80 teams and we are hoping for about 120.”
Ms Dickinson explained that team members take turns walking for the whole 24 hours.
After an opening ceremony, the event kicks off with a lap dedicated to survivors, who walk the first half before being joined by their caregivers, and the Iron Shore parade lap.
Ms Dickinson said: “There are more ceremonies throughout the event to remember those who have died and for participants to pledge to fight cancer “every single day of the year”.
Teams will also set up stalls around the field to raise funds, with face painting, bake sales and coffee and food.
Relay for Life starts at 6.30pm on May 18 at the North Field of the Bermuda National Sports Centre.
Online registration ends on April 30. Late registration will be available at XL Catlin on May 15 at 5.30pm.
• For more information, visit www.bermudarelay.com
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