Wednesday 16 January, 2019

In cancer fight, Kacy gets help from St Mary’s banana chips producer

Kayceia Stephenson

Kayceia Stephenson

St Mary’s banana chips maker JP Tropical Foods has joined the #CareforKacy movement.

The Jamaica Producers subsidiary has donated $25,000 to the medical fund of Kayceia Stephenson, a St Mary native who is fighting breast cancer and is in dire need of financial assistance to battle the dreaded disease.

Tara Goulbourne, commercial manager of JP Tropical Foods, said the company was moved by a Loop Jamaica article highlighting Stephenson's cancer fight and how members of a St Mary High School alumni group had launched a challenge (#CareforKacy) to help their schoolmate.

"When we read about St Mary’s High School past student Kayceia Stephenson's battle with cancer a few days ago on Loop, we were moved to make a donation of $25,000," Goulbourne said.

"St Mary is home of the JP Tropical Food products, including the St Mary’s brand of chips.  It is in that parish that we have our farms and most of our employees are from the various communities. So as good corporate citizens, we continue to give back to the residents in various tangible ways. Therefore, it was in keeping with that mandate that we felt led to assist Kayceia," she added.

Goulbourne said that it is the company's hope that "this small gesture will help with any intervention being planned to bring her back to good health" and added that it was calling on others to join in the #CareforKacy movement.

Stephenson, who lives in Kingston, was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her right breast in August 2017.

JP Tropical Foods produces the St Mary's brand of banana chips

To date, she has not started any form of treatment for the cancer due to financial constraints despite efforts to raise money to assist in her plight – she hosted two fish fries which only left her in debt.

With the cancer now at stage 3, the situation has become even more desperate for Stephenson. Scheduled to undergo a segmental mastectomy in March followed by radiation therapy, the surgery was reportedly postponed due to insufficient funds.

Made aware of their former schoolmate’s troubles, members of the St Mary High Class of 2008 postponed a 10-year anniversary to assist in Stephenson’s fight.

“We wanted to celebrate, but after hearing about Kayceia, and knowing what she has gone though, we decided to start the #CareforKacy challenge,” Sasheena Douglas, a member of the alumni group, told Loop News.

#CareforKacy challenges social media users to tag five people and challenge them to donate $1,000 each to the ‘Help Kacy Fight Breast Cancer’ account at NCB Port Maria, Account #814122999.

Also stepping up to help Stephenson is her friend Karen Tomlinson, who launched a Gofundme account to raise funds. Since launching on April 6, the GoFundMe account has raised US$1,590 of the targeted US$5,000.

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