Touchstone Story #78–Fighting Breast Cancer

Cancer is the leading cause of death around the world, and breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed kind of cancer in women. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime, but early detection can help save lives.

Brenda Tibbetts Lund of the Cayman Islands was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996. At the time, there was very little information about breast cancer available in Cayman, so Lund worked with the Tropical Gardens Lions Club of the Cayman Islands to establish an awareness program. The efforts of Lund and the Lions led to the area’s first annual 5K walk-run and awareness campaign, which was launched in 1997.

Carmin Godfrey of the Tropical Garden Lions Club said that the breast cancer awareness campaign “became our signature project, because it is an issue that is very dear to our hearts.”

Lund passed away in 1998, and the annual event was renamed the Brenda Tibbetts Lund Memorial 5K Walk/Run in her honor. Hundreds come out every year to support the event, support their community and feel empowered to make a difference.

“When I first found out I had breast cancer, I was very scared,” cancer survivor Becky Ebanks said. Finishing the 5K Walk/Run for the first time gave her a great sense of accomplishment. “My family walked with me. That was very important.”

The 5K is a visible sign of outreach, but it’s the conversations about cancer screening and awareness that happen because of the walk/run that really make the difference. As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Tropical Gardens club organizes community forums every October in all seven districts on Grand Cayman. Topics covered in these forums include breast health, self-exams, mammograms and risk factors. The Lions provide vouchers for free mammograms to as many as 600 women a year who otherwise could not afford the cost of the screening.

Since the program’s launch, “the frequency at which you find advanced breast cancer has dropped tremendously,” said Dr. Steve Tomlinson. “Most we’ve seen now are stage 1, stage 2 cancers, with a higher cure rate.”

In addition to local efforts, the Lions Clubs International Foundation has supported cancer-related grants with donations totaling more than US$4 million. About 13,000 women in Venezuela received breast cancer screenings after an LCIF grant provided a mammography machine for District E-1 in Venezuela. In Lebanon and Jordan, Lions helped to equip three clinics that screen approximately 10,000 women every year.

“Education is key,” said Ebanks. “Women need to know they can take control of their health.”

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive . Don’t forget to share these stories with new members so they gain an understanding of Lions history!

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