Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 26th 2016 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Chairman emeritus of the Can-
cer Society of T&T, Dr George
Laquis, is suggesting that the not
yet opened Children s Hospital,
Couva, be designated as a centre
for a national cancer programme.
He said the Government should
set up a committee to come up
with a national cancer programme.
Laquis made the suggestion dur-
ing an interview with the T&T
Guardian yesterday at his Diego
Martin office. October is Breast
Cancer Awareness month and the
event is commemorated globally
He said cancer was increasing
exponentially in developed coun-
tries and in T&T, with a very high
numbers of pancreatic cancer and
Laquis said, to date, there was
no national cancer programme in
T&T which encompassed the whole
process of treating with a cancer
patient, including screening, psy-
chological support, medical and
surgical treatment, radiotherapy
and taking care of a dying patient.
He said while the State provided
cancer patients treatment at the St
James Infirmary, it was not ade-
Laquis said after 15 years the
national oncology centre being con-
structed at the Eric Williams Med-
ical Sciences Complex is yet to
materialise, despite $100 million
being pumped into the project.
Work began on the project late last
Responding to questions on
whether the Children s Hospital
was outfitted to be a cancer centre,
he replied: "That is irrelevant. It is
not outfitted for anything. Of
course, it has to be retrofitted but
that s a small item in the context
of what I am suggesting and the
cost is minimal."
He said the treatment of cancer
was only one part of a proper can-
"It s so much more than that,"
Laquis said the Children s Hos-
pital, a pet project of the Kamla
remained unopened when the new
Government came into power in
September 2015. The building was
only recently handed over to the
State from the Chinese contrac-
He said it was the perfect use
for a cancer facility.
"The location is ideal. There is
a large land mass for a hotel next
to it for people coming in from the
islands and Guyana for treatment
here. We cater, at present, for the
whole Caribbean outside Jamaica.
Cancer patients from the islands
and Guyana end up here for treat-
ment. Residence will have to be
built for staff and a hospice,"
He said he started the Cancer
Society s Vitas Hospice in St James
for dying cancer patients because
he felt death was something that
should be handled with dignity.
Laquis said there was no official
record of the number of people
diagnosed with cancer in T&T and,
therefore, it was difficult to give a
precise number. He said only cancer
deaths are recorded.
"For the last 20 years I have been
pushing for legislation to make can-
cer diagnosis a reportable disease,"
Laquis said cancer treatment was
very expensive, even for the
wealthy, but said intelligent, cost-
effective screening is needed.
He added: "All Third World
countries, like us, still have to prac-
tise cost effectiveness. It costs the
State millions and millions of dol-
lars but it s not only about the
money. There is a huge indirect
cost in productivity."
Laquis said there were non-med-
ical ways to battle cancer but it
took tremendous courage.
"A lot of research has been done
on the power of positive thinking
on patients. They do better than
those who are negative but it takes
tremendous courage to be positive,"
Laquis said he "almost sees can-
cer as a willy foe, trying to outsmart
me" and described the disease as
"the emperor of all maladies."
Himself a healthy 74, he said he
lived a healthy lifestyle and that
was a key preventative measure.
Cigarette smoking and alcohol
combined, air pollution and certain
foods all contributed to cancer.
"It s all about what I eat,"
Stress, Laquis said, was also a
"Essentially, it s our responsibility
to change our lifestyle and envi-
ronment individually and as a peo-
ple so we could prevent the disease
as opposed to trying to find it early,"
Cancer society head advises Govt:
Make Children's Hospital a cancer care centre
Cancer patients undergoing treatment at Vitas House, St James, yesterday. PHOTOS: ANDRE ALEXANDER
Chairman emeritus of the Cancer
Society of T&T, Dr George Laquis.
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