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The power of knowledge

  • RBC Royal Bank's free breast cancer genetic testing benefits employees.

Published: Oct 22, 2013

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Knowledge is a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer.  Genetic screening determines the risk of hereditary breast cancer in women. Genetic tests can check for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. If a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation is found several options are available to help a person manage their cancer risk. Early detection of cancer can save one’s life.

Employees of RBC Royal Bank recently benefitted from on-site, free breast cancer genetic testing. The initiative was a joint partnership between RBC and the Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative Foundation (BBCIF). The genetic testing was carried out on-site at RBC Royal Bank House, with additional support and advice made available to employees. The initiative included an educational session on hereditary breast cancer and preventative practices.

The Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative Foundation (BBCIF) is a public-private partnership that was formed in April 2008. BBCIF’s mission is to facilitate the collaboration of multiple partners to improve breast cancer care in The Bahamas. The organization has been instrumental in raising funds and awareness in the fight against breast cancer through public awareness campaigns and conducting educational campaigns throughout The Bahamas, including in schools.

The genetic testing campaign was established by BBCIF to gain a better understanding of hereditary breast cancer in The Bahamas.  The staggering statistics show that one in four Bahamian women carry a possibly deadly genetic mutation related to breast cancer. Research has also revealed that Bahamian women are developing breast cancer at the age of 42, which is 20 years earlier than other countries. The results from the genetic testing campaign will be used to determine the prevalence of the gene in the Bahamian population and explore why the gene is so aggressive among Bahamian women. The campaign also seeks to improve breast cancer treatment and protection for the benefit of all Bahamian women.

The spit test, used to carry out the genetic testing usually costs $4,000. BBCIF has negotiated a reduction in costs to $100 through a subsidized research grant. The research study which is being conducted in The Bahamas, began in 2012. BBCIF’s target is to have 1,000 women tested by April 2014.

Jan Knowles, RBC manager, public relations and communications, pledged RBC’s continued support to the fight against cancer, “RBC is committed to raising awareness about breast cancer and to supporting breast cancer research and education. RBC is proud to continue its commitment to the fight against cancer through contributions to the RBC Children’s Cancer Fund, Ride for Hope, The Cancer Society of The Bahamas and The Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative Foundation (BBCIF). RBC is also steadfast in its commitment to the health and wellbeing of its employees,” she said. “The initiative encompasses our dedication to our employees and the community towards a healthier Bahamas.”

RBC staff was receptive to the screening and appreciative to have such an opportunity available to them. "I am so grateful for the opportunity to be tested and the information provided about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. I hope more women are able to get tested and that a cure is found for this dreadful disease," said Maxine Bullard, executive assistant. Tamisha Knowles, support officer, market coordination and optimization, exclaimed: "Awesome stuff! I was truly informed and educated on the importance of early breast cancer detection. I thank God that the corporate communications team saw the need to share this knowledge with the females at RBC."

Melissa Major, executive director, at BBCIF applauded RBC for taking an active role in the fight against cancer in The Bahamas.

"The sponsorship and participation from RBC is greatly appreciated. The fact that RBC came on board immediately seeing the benefit of this great initiative and offered it to their staff speaks volumes,” she said. “I hope that we are able to continue this relationship as we are committed to completing the research and translating the information to better care for Bahamian women."

For further information about breast cancer Genetic Testing Campaign please visit http://www.bbcif.com/#.

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