(HAMILTON, ON) — Haudenosaunee Confederacy Clan Mother Kathy Smoke is looking forward to many more years of enjoying her children, grandchildren and large circle of family and friends. That’s why she’s so grateful to have undergone a mammogram just over one year ago that detected breast cancer in its early stages.
“You might be thinking, `Oh no. Not me. I won’t get cancer,’” said Kathy, a guest speaker recently at the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre where she was promoting cancer screening. “It’s important to get checked, just to be sure.”
Ontario residents are encouraged to undergo regular screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer as part of their routine medical care. Screening is a potentially lifesaving service, because there’s a better chance of treating these cancers successfully when they’re found early.
“You need to make time for yourselves and get checked,” said Kathy. “If you have cancer and it’s not caught in time, who’s going to be there for your family?”
Kathy’s breast cancer was treated through a combination of aboriginal and western medicine including surgery in the fall of 2015. “With the treatments dually working together I was able to beat it.”
Accessibility is key to increasing screening rates, which can catch these cancers early, said Alyssa Higginson, the Mobile Cancer Screening Coordinator and Health Promotion Specialist with the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Regional Cancer Program. Alyssa is the coordinator for the Screen for Life Mobile Coach, a 45-foot-long bus staffed by HHS health care professionals that offers breast and cervical cancer screening, as well as a take-home test called a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) that screens for early signs of colorectal cancer. The Screen for Life Mobile Coach visits inner-city locations including the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre. It also visits Six Nations and New Credit.
For more information on cancer screening, including schedules for the Screen for Life Mobile Coach with locations and times, please visit hnhbscreenforlife.ca.