On December 16, 2011, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was petrified, thinking that my life was coming to an end, as seen with so many others who have all gone before me. With the help of my family, daughter Yanique and my husband Arnold we vowed to fight the dreaded disease with everything we had. While going through my treatment, taking the cancer drug letrozole, multiple surgeries and reconstruction, it dawned on me that I should do something with my life instead of moping and crying everyday.
It is said that in their lifetime, one in six women will be affected by breast cancer, so we have to fight to erase that statistic. The thought of raising funds for the Rouge Valley Centenary hospital (my treatment site) was running through my mind, so I decided to work towards it. I mentioned this idea to my doctors, and they all said that I should focus on my recovery first as the process may be too stressful on my body. Being the determined person that I am, I went ahead and planned the first “Ms. Letna Healing Hope Brunch”.
As a “Breast Cancer Survivor,” I have benefited from the services of the Centenary hospital, its team of doctors, oncologists, nurses, and volunteers. I pledged to give back to the hospital and I now aspire to double my efforts for the second year running. If I can replace one pair of surgical gloves, or even an injection needle, I may be able to help save a life from the dreaded effects of cancer, especially breast cancer.
Dr. Naresh Mohan, chief-of-staff at the Scarborough Centenary site, as well as Dr. Marietta Zorn, Plastic Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgeon will be the upcoming Guest Speakers at the Healing Hope Brunch. Last year, my cancer surgeon Dr. Tracey Asano and Dr. Chiarotto my Oncologist were the guest speakers.
In 2013, the first year of this event, we raised $5,500 which went directly to the Breast Cancer Department. My goal is to increase or double that amount of funds to the hospital each year. I hope that over a five year period I can give the Cancer Department, especially the Breast Cancer Unit, a gift of $30,000 or more. I will also be donating $1000 (CAD) which is equivalent to $100,000 (JAM) to the Jamaica Cancer Society to provide Mammogram and Ultrasound for needy women who cannot afford to pay for this service.
How did I survive breast cancer while continuing to do the things I love? I don’t cry, I don’t complain, I pray, I go to work to ensure my company continues to operate, I continue with my acting, as well as continuing to perform at banquets, parties, anniversaries and much more.
I am now in discussion with the Olive Branch of Hope organization and with The Taibu Community Health Services in Scarborough to host a “Scarborough Breast Cancer Support Group” for ethnic women. My hope is that this service will enlighten women about the disease as well as give them support to cope with it and to help them have a positive attitude which will give them the will to continue to live.
My wish is to see all women free of this dreadful disease, if not in my lifetime, hopefully in the lifetime of the next generation.