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Interview with Dr Desiree Hooi MD, Research Physician ( HPV)| Fundashon Prevenshon | Part 1

November 27, 2014

 

Ever since I was little I had two loves, music and medicine. I possessed a precocious curiosity about the “science” of life in general. I always knew that one day I was going to become a Medical Doctor and I was well aware that there would be a long road ahead.


I studied medicine with a goal to understand the behaviors and mechanisms behind human bodily functions and to find (the solution or the cure) for specific diseases.

I believe that the urge for finding these answers has brought me to where I am today; studying and working as a medical professional and researcher. However, I have since learned that studying medicine was not enough to answer all the questions about this thing we call life!

 


 

 

Can you tell us about how you started working for Fundashon Prevenshon?

Since my return from Costa Rica I  have worked as a general practitioner and as physician assistant at the Neurology ward in the General Hospital.

In November 2012 a former colleague, the actual director of Fundashon Prevenshon Ms. L. Elstak who always I have considered a role model, brought me in contact with professor Pinedo. I was offered a job as a research physician on the HPV and Cervical cancer program. At that moment I thought that I could keep my interest in science. I consider this an opportunity to do medical research on Curaçao with the well-respected global authority in medicine; emeritus Professor Bob Pinedo.

Of course I saw the opportunity to work on uniform guidelines, developed and adapted to our specific community. From my experiences I had so far, I want to contribute, by means of evidence-based research projects to set these guidelines and safeguards.

 

 

What is Fundashon Prevenshon?

Fundashon Prevenshon is a private foundation that was founded by Emeritus Professor H.M.(Bob) Pinedo and Mr. L. (Paps) Capriles with the objective of supporting and administering a center for the prevention of disease in Curaçao. As of 28th of October 2009, the foundation has been listed at the Ministry of Health of Curaçao and is situated at the Klipstraat 11 in Otrobanda.

What is HPV?

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexual transmitted disease and it’s a well-established cause of cervical cancer. Although cervical cancer is the most common cancer caused by the HPV virus, studies have shown that the virus can also cause cancer in areas such as anus, vagina, vulva, penis, and oropharynx. It represents an additional 0·7% of all cancer sites in men and women, meaning that HPV is estimated to be responsible for 5·2% of all cancers worldwide.

 

What research projects are you currently working on?

I am  the person responsible for writing the protocol, organizing the population screening associated with scientific research about HPV and cervical cancer. I will perform the scientific research by collecting 1000 Pap smears and HPV samples.  All the participants of the scientific research will receive a self-test. It will be a total of approximately 2000 HPV samples that I will be analyzing in the lab.  Last year we already did a pilot trial consisting of 253 women in order to have preliminary results and analyze the work and study the logistics.

Currently, I am working on data analysis of a study we just have finished in The Netherlands consisting out of HPV genotype on paraffin embedded cancer and pre-cancer material in Curaçao women from 2003 to 2013. This study was done to specify which HPV genotype is causing cancer in our population  which is relevant issue to address in order to introduce the HPV vaccination.

“…many women are not aware of having their cervix intact after having the uterus removed.”

There is also another ongoing analysis happening in tandem with this research to help pin-point the number of women who have had hysterectomies (uterus extirpation) with intact cervix.  An interestnig fact we came to find during the first trial was that many women are not aware of having their cervix intact after having the uterus removed. This must be considered a risk for developing cervical cancer, espescially if these women still have their cervix and do not routinely have a Pap smear done. We will analyze this population in order to tackle the situation of awareness and to incorporate this group in the population-screening program.

We will work with the organization to start  randomized research in 1000 women in the coming months. This study will be realized under the supervision of Professors at VU mc Vrije University of Amsterdam and DDL Diagnostic Center at Rijswijk in the Netherlands. A local Gynecologist and Professor Pinedo are involved to support the research and for advice.


Besides this being an important opportunity for the population of Curaçao, I will also obtain my doctorate in science and medicine with the completion of this PhD study.

So, is HPV currently a public health issue in the Caribbean?

Caribbean data reveals that cervical cancer is ranking second place in most common cancer among women in the Caribbean. HPV is the established cause of this type of cancer. There is currently not enough data reported regarding the HPV virus and its effects in the Caribbean; not all islands have implemented a cervical cancer-screening program within their communities. Furthermore, even with the introduction of the HPV vaccine most Caribbean islands currently do not have a government regulated vaccination program.

 

 

“…Caribbean data reveals that cervical cancer is ranking second place in most common cancer among women in the Caribbean. “



800px-Scheme_hysterectomy-en_svg
However, there have been findings of cancers caused by this very contagious sexual transmitted virus in the cervix (feminine organ) and also in other tissues in both man and women e.g. vulva, vagina, anus, oral cavity and throat in women. There are reports of HPV being found in men with cancer of the penis, anus, oral and throat cavity.


That is why we are working diligently to educate and stimulate the population to participate in screening programs and be aware that this is not only a female but also a male public health issue.

 

How is this study geared towards the Curaçao community and how are test subjects picked out?

Subjects are selected according to the needs and the current situation in the population. Prior to the scientific study, a literature analysis will be done. The reason is to analyze existing publications on this subject and to determine the importance of the results for this population. This HPV study on Curaçao will start from scratch. There is little data available in the Caribbean. Some of the results are well-known from Jamaica and Cuba but considering the fact that the mortality rate for cervical cancer is high in the Caribbean, more studies are requested in order to address this form of cancer in the right manner.

 

CF: Wow! That is a lot to digest on a daily basis! Can you tell us a little more about yourself and how you spend any free time you have left? 

 

I am a dreamer and a believer. I am  also very ambitious and always think about the bigger picture. If you really want something it depends on you and only you to achieve that goal.

 

The most important thing is to never give up. Everything is possible when you dream & when you believe. I have a saying since my childhood: “This world is big enough for all my dreams, and small enough for me to achieve them” (quote by me). Prior to my medical study, I graduated as a Registered Nurse. At age 16 I started to work as intern aspirant nurse at the St. Elisabeth Hospital in Curaçao.

I find it incredibly inspiring to be part of this scientific study. I work hard to stay on the right track to achieve this goal and fully contribute to my community.  This survey requires a lot of time for reading other studies and analyzing the results. Working in the lab is a challenge of endurance and concentration. The calculations and the discussion on the results with my supervisors contribute each day to get a better understanding of the behavior of the HPV virus genotypes on the island.  Furthermore, providing information to patients and other interested parties is inherent in my profession and gives me great satisfaction.


My balance in this scientific research is music and I play the ‘Cuatro’ instrument. I love music and I compose my own songs. I have several compositions and a c.d. to be published with 9 self composed songs. I am a member of a 25 person choir. Making music together and studying the details of the different voices and the various musical instruments is one of my hobbies. I’m part of the folkloric music group “Tipiko Pasabon”. I play Cuatro in harp & Cuatro duets with Marco Dorothea. I also play with my beloved uncle Rudy Plaate on special occasions.  Benito (Broertje) Dolorita, Alberto (Betto) Betrian, Eduardo Pereira, Norman Moron, Lindo Casper, Hershel Rosario, are some more local musicians I used to perform with.

I can now travel less while I complete this study, but I cannot wait for the day I can act and perform in theaters and musicals again.
Also, when I do have some free evening hours I like to try and stop the clock by enjoying a self made dish with family and friends.
My cooking skills come from my curiosity for other cultures and I find experimenting with existing recipes helps bring the travel back to me.

Art & Culture, Interviews, Lifestyle, Music, The Pulse

Izaline Calister Does Her Powerful Voice Still Ring True? 2007 Interview

June 18, 2014

“…Support means providing information, workshops and lectures so that everyone may have access to all the tools and opportunities I used to reach my goal. This is a very hands-on type of support. I believe it is also important to have an educational system kids can turn to, to develop their talents. This is the only way to keep local music alive, interesting and developing. It needs to grow, develop and be injected with new blood and ideas.”


Name:
Izaline Francisca Juanita Calister
Date of Birth9th of March but the year is a big big secret
Place of Birth: The beautiful sunny island of Curacao

Your connection to the Caribbean: I was born there and lived there most of my life, the most important formative part of my live there. I love the vibe, the sounds, the colours, the music, the people……need I go on???
Highschool attended: Radulphus College. Willemstad, Curaçao
Current Studies /Occupation: Well I finished studying a few years ago. I studied Business Administration in Groningen and when I finished this I studied Music in Groningen as well and graduated in 1998.

What is or are the accomplishments you are most proud of up to now?

Bringing the music that I write and sing in my own language papiamentu, to all parts of the world. There is no greater feeling than noticing that it works everywhere and people leave the concert with a happy smile on their face even if they don’t understand a word I am singing.


Who has been your inspiration?

Oswin ‘chin’ Behilia, Richard Bona, Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Sara Tavares. Artists from different parts of the world who create by mixing and matching different influences in a unique way.

What are the choices you made that you believe have brought you to where you are today?
Early on in my career I decided to be a true professional; to always be on time, always well prepared, always fair and straight, always friendly….and artistically always follow my gut feeling and my heart.

What do you feel about the state of Antillean music in General?
There is a lot happening and brewing underground. I can’t wait to hear and see what is going to come up in a few years.

How do you feel you are contributing to the evolution of Antillean music?
That is one of the things I am most proud of. I know that even if it is for a small part, my music and my success abroad, a lot of young musicians on my island are now daring to dream bigger dreams. People are now more aware of the richness of our music and culture even though we are a small island. They are finding more and more ways to express their pride.

What do you prefer to do on one of those “I have nothing else to do, no obligation,chill out type of days” in Holland? Those days are very rare for me. But when I have them I love to go see a concert by artists I admire, catch a movie or just curl up on the couch and watch a nice series on DVD. Nowadays I have two addictions: Grey’s Anatomy and Heroes.

How do you feel about the state of contemporary music on the islands/or Holland? Well, sometimes I miss some originality I guess. I think people are too obsessed about being succesful instead of being original. Thank Goodness you always have special quircky individuals that will try something new and make it hip to be special for a while. I love real musicians, real singers, and real songwriters. I hope they are the ones who will keep on prevailing in this world filled with plastic, computer enhanced artists.

 

How do you think we can improve music education on the islands?
I hope the government realizes how important music education is for it’s people. We need a proper way of teaching so children can get a good basic music education. We need a way to detect kids that have a special inclination or talent early on. We need ways to make sure gifted children fully develop their talents.

For this we need a methodology that fits our culture and people. This has to be designed and thoroughly thought over. This requires money, determination, tools and knowledge. We also need to realize that this should be an ongoing process with a long breath. The government is the first who can help in this process. Then we need rolemodels who are willing to teach, talk, advise, listen and form. Here is where I see a big role for me and my fellow musicians.

 

Why do you believe it is important to support local music, and what does Support mean to you?
Support means providing information, workshops and lectures so that everyone may have access to all the tools and opportunities I used to reach my goal.

This is a very hands-on type of support. I believe it is also important to have an educational system kids can turn to, to develop their talents. This is the only way to keep local music alive, interesting and developing. It needs to grow, develop and be injected with new blood and ideas.

What’s the top five on your Play List?

- Eyala-Richard Bona
- Lisboa Kuya- Sara Tavares
- Be still my heart-Silje Nergaard
- When morning comes-Dianne Reeves
- James-Pat Metheny
What is your favorite song in Papiamentu?
No bai by Oswin ‘Chin’ Behilia

Any new projects or new sounds? 
I am preparing a new CD. I want to try something new but don’t know what yet. I’m thinking, trying, experimenting, writing, tossing and turning…….so I guess it’s 2008 were watching out for.

Message to the Global Community:
“
Keep supporting the music from lesser known parts of the world. You
 might never know what kind of gems you may encounter and be very pleasantly surprised by music from the smallest of islands.


Shout-out to the Caribflava (The UCC) community:
Hi guys, I feel honored to be part of this community. With ears and eyes wide open to what is happening in the Caribbean region and beyond. Thank you for making me feel so welcome!

( UPDATE: Watch her perform for the King and queen of the Netherlands in April of this year 2014)

Interviews, Lifestyle, The Pulse

Herbologist Dinah Veeris Shares her advice on what to plant in your own herbal garden!

June 12, 2014

A glimpse in to our in depth interview with Dinah Veeris in Curacao.
She speaks about the historical uses of the now trendy Moringa tree. And gives advice on what plants may be best to start planting in our own yards. I personally adored this interview. I can’t wait to post the full-form  for you all to enjoy.  Part 1 will be available shortly. I have learned so much from each segment may just inspire you  ( like it did Deya and I ) to start your own herbal garden OR simply remember to water your own :)!

Community Service, Interviews, Lifestyle, The Pulse

Deva-dee Siliee | CUR #Throwback

April 17, 2014

Name: Deva-dee Siliee
Date of Birth:01/05/86
Place of Birth: Curacao Netherlands Antilles
Where have you been living the past two years? New York City

Current occupation: Student/ Part-time model (UPDATE COMING SOON)

Who would you say is Deva-Dee?

I am extremely ambitious and optimistic person. I believe in dreaming and making your dreams come true. I believe the key to that is to work hard but also have a positive attitude about everything and I believe the key to success in that in is learning.  A lot of people go through situations without getting the education they should in order to prosper. I believe in growth and achieving my full potentials in every aspect I am interested in.

Who has been your inspiration?
My mother has been a big inspiration because I grew up in a single parent household. She s a very strong woman and has always stood behind me and beside me as a friend. She encouraged me to pursue the things I want to pursue. She inspired me with her own way of living. She is very caring, always ready to help everybody and believes in making a difference. So a lot of who I am is inspired by her teachings.

What is the experience / project you are most proud of?

I am most proud of myself. I am proud of the life I am living. I am proud I am someone that does not take life for granted. Everything I do I try to do as best as I can. So the two things I am most proud of I guess would be finishing school in Curacao and getting myself into an Ivy league College. – Columbia University. A lot of people would be surprised if I don’t mention modeling but at the time modeling was a stepping-stone for me.  I connected with th right people but didn’t let it take over furthermore did not pursue it in a way in which I would “sell” my identity. Modeling is a very short-term industry and my real goals are in other areas.

What do you feel about the opportunities available to the local youth on the islands right now?

In need of improvement. We need a lot more activities and opportunities for the youth to be able to prosper according to their interests. I believe that the older generation including the government, companies and parents need to unite and work better together in order for the youth get access to new possibilities.

It has a lot to do with politics because the situation over the course of ten years has helped the island disintegrate. We lack unity, determination, and we lack discipline. We start and never follow through.

Everyone is just pursuing their own personal interests. There is no fight for a common goal.  I am planning to come back to the island in about 10 -15 years.  I would like to see more focus directed towards education, crime prevention and long term commitments instead of short term solutions.

What do you miss the most about being home?
My lovely people. I admire how our Island is so culturally diverse yet we each seem to manage to embrace the same culture same music  and language as our own. We have a lot to be proud of and we need to take better care of our heritage and our fascinating History.

What do you do on of those rare slow you don’t have ANYTHING else to do type of days In New York?

I’ll find a dance class somewhere in the city. There are soo many things going on in the dance scene here including Workshops with the best choreographers and festivals. There is something about walking around in the city, you never know who you’re going to see or meet, and where you may end up. There are always new places and sights you haven’t seen.

What’s the top five on your Play List?

– Sade

– Maxwell

– Erykah badhu

– B.I.G.

– JayZ

Shout-out to the Carib-Flava community
Keep doing what you do the fullest believe that you are able and you will be able.

Message to the Global Community:
Let’s stick together we all share the same fate in the end.