Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, and that includes Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean and the rest of the world. One in six people dies from cancer every year and in 2018, over 9.6 million deaths were attributed to this deadly disease.

In Trinidad and Tobago, cancer has robbed countless households and communities of loved ones, leaving a heavy physical, emotional and financial toll in its wake. Regrettably, the disease is often diagnosed in its late stages, severely reducing options for treatment and possibilities for recovery.

World Cancer Day provides a platform for raising awareness about cancer prevention, detection and care. This year’s theme, ‘I Am and I Will’ is a clarion call for greater personal responsibility in tackling this national and global scourge.

You, are therefore the ultimate advocate for your health. Cancer was once viewed as an automatic death sentence, but significant medical progress and innovation have made prognoses far less grim. There are now several avenues for treatment and even more importantly, prevention. Every citizen must recognise the importance of being proactive as one third of cancer cases are avoidable with the adoption of healthy lifestyles and yet another third is curable with early detection and treatment.

I encourage you therefore to take action: champion a healthy lifestyle within your family, go for regular check-ups and screenings, participate in an awareness campaign. Every citizen has a part to play and although much is yet undone, there have been many initiatives on the national level to strengthen our approach, such as the launch of breast cancer research in Tobago last year.

We join with the global community in marking World Cancer Day. We all have the power to reduce the impact of this deadly disease. Let us therefore commit to reversing the trend and diminishing the burden that is cancer.