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Friday, March 31, 2006
Help On The Way For Cancer Stricken Guyanese Teen


Johnson is being treated at Brooklyn Hospital.


Hardbeatnews, NEW YORK, N.Y., Fri. Mar. 31, 2006: A 19-year-old Guyanese teenager, who has spent more than a year battling skin cancer, may soon get much-needed relief from the tumor that’s left her stricken with constant pain.

Thanks in large part to the fundraising efforts of a U.S.-based organization made up of Guyanese medical professionals and the Brooklyn Hospital. Dr. Collie Oudkerk, a Guyanese-born medical doctor and vice-president of HERE (Health, Education & Relief For Guyana), told HBN yesterday that Lynear Johnson could begin the first round of surgery as early as Monday to remove the cancerous abscesses that’s taken over the right side of her face and is affecting her neck and head as well.

Dr. Oudkerk explained that the case came to the attention of the organization last December, during one of their medical outreach projects in Linden. “She’s an albino and as such is predisposed to skin cancer since she has no melanin,” he said, adding that the type of cancer is called squamous cell carcinoma or SCC. According to the American Skin Cancer Foundation, SSC is the second most common skin cancer after basal cell carcinoma and afflicts more than 200,000 Americans each year.

The HERE VP added that Chairman of the Region 10 Welfare Committee, Valerie Sharpe, led the effort to help bring relief to Johnson and after a February diagnosis in Trinidad, funded largely by the Guyana government, failed to help, his organization stepped in.

He along with other members of the non-profit, approached Brooklyn Hospital officials, who agreed to treat the teen free of charge. But Dr. Oudkerk and his group still must raise enough money to help with Johnson’s care after surgery. The total bill he said could run a whopping US$100,000.

Johnson is being seen by a neck and head surgeon at the hospital and will also be seen by a plastic surgeon, since reconstructive surgery will be necessary after the lesions are removed. Radiation therapy will also be required.

The Skin Cancer Foundation says chronic exposure to sunlight causes most cases of squamous cell carcinoma with tumors appear most frequently on sun-exposed parts of the body: the face, neck, bald scalp, hands, shoulders, arms, and back. The rim of the ear and the lower lip are especially vulnerable to the development of these cancers, SCF says.

And although SCCs usually remain confined to the epidermis for some time, they eventually penetrate the underlying tissues if not treated. When this happens, they can be disfiguring.

But the Brookdale doctor revealed that Johnson remains in great spirits and is optimistic that the treatment will be successful and she will be cured.

HERE officials, led by Dr. Wayne Sampson, however, now face the uphill battle to raise enough money to help the teen complete her treatment. Tax-deductible donations can be made to the group by calling 850-322-6936. – Hardbeatnews.com