(SNO) — Desmond Frederick, better known as ‘Holy’, the eldest brother of former government minister Richard Frederick, passed away in New York on Tuesday, Oct. 9 – two days before Richard’s popular weekly talk show on MBC TV, ‘Can I Help You’.
On Thursday (Oct. 18), while explaining his brother’s death as the main reason for his show’s absence from the airwaves on Oct. 11, Richard revealed some interesting but grim information:
“He [Desmond] was the third of my parents’ 11 children… but he was the first son. I lost my older sister Catherine on the 20th of January this year, and just over eight months after, I lost my favourite brother. I have lost three siblings folks, and I have lost both of my parents. The siblings that I have lost are the first, the second and third incidentally, and all of them to the same illness, cancer.”
Richard’s revelation is probably not unique to many families in Saint Lucia.
During the media launch for Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Oct. 4, 2018, Ag. National Epidemiologist Dr. Michelle Francois revealed that cancer alone accounted for 20 percent of all the deaths in Saint Lucia, in both 2014 and 2015.
Francois said in Saint Lucia, cancers, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension, respectively, are “our top five killers” between 2013 and 2015.
“These top five causes of death accounted for over half of the total deaths in 2014. Cancer alone accounted for 20 percent of all the deaths in both 2014 and 2015,” she said, belting out more grim local statistics.
“In 2015 we had stroke, prostate cancer and diabetes being the leading causes of death in our men and a similar trend was noticed in the women with stroke, diabetes and breast cancer being the main cause of death.
“The leading site of cancer death in Saint Lucia is the breast. Breast cancer is ranked as the number one cause of cancer deaths among women in Saint Lucia from since 2006, and the trend shows that the numbers continue to increase.”
Cancers, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension are known as non-communicable diseases because they aren’t transferable from person to person, and caused mainly by poor lifestyle choices.
Statistics from the World Health Organization have revealed that 41 million people die each year from non-communicable diseases, which is equivalent to 70 percent of all deaths worldwide. Cancers account for 9 million of these deaths.
Officials say non-communicable diseases, also referred to as ‘silent killers’, contribute significantly to losses in productivity, increased economic burden to individuals, families, communities, and the nation.
However, Dr. Francois said many cancers are preventable through lifestyle changes, such as decreasing alcohol consumption, stop smoking, regular screening, early detection, and effective treatment.
The management of St. Lucia News Online expresses sincere condolences to the Frederick family, and all the families in Saint Lucia and beyond, that have lost relatives and friends to cancer.