At one time “Cancer” was a word hardly spoken aloud in the community and patients felt isolated. To comfort those patients a group of nursing friends were approached to volunteer their time to sit and talk to patients, perhaps feed them, read to them and generally keep them company. The first formal minutes of P.A.L.S. were recorded in August 1980. By the end of that year, 730 hours had been given by volunteers visiting patients in their homes and in the hospital and P.A.L.S. was born.
The Chief Medical Officer was persuaded to give permission to a nurse employed by the Bermuda Tuberculosis Cancer and Health Association to visit cancer patients in the community, in addition to her duties of visiting TB patients. She was limited to three hours weekly. Within a few weeks, the nurse was spending far more that the permitted time with cancer patients.
At this time, it was realized that private funds were urgently required by the now budding charity to hire a community cancer nurse. Contact was made with wealthy Hollywood film producer, Robert Stigwood, a Bermuda resident at the time. He kindly provided wages for two years to employ a part time nurse. She began her duties in February 1983.
Our annual budget is over $2 million dollars and we spend over $4,000 a day or 78% of our budget directly on patient care. We now employ an Executive Director, a full time Medical Director, five full time Registered Nurses, a full time Medical Social Worker, 2 administrators and 3 consultants for the Thrift Shop.
P.A.L.S. depends primarily upon financial donations from the generous people of Bermuda, without whose support we could not exist. Operating funds are derived from memorial donations, general donations, annual appeal, in lieu of union dues and through the tireless work of so many of our volunteers at our on-going fund raising events. In 2018 P.A.L.S. opened a thrift shop as a self sustaining source of revenue, which to date has proved very successful.
In 1999 P.A.L.S. acquired a small plot of land on Point Finger Road. Planning permission was obtained and building commenced in 2001. Construction of the new premises was completed in October 2002.
The new headquarters has given P.A.L.S. a permanent home from which to carry on our very important work in the community. The new building gives each nurse a small space of her own and each of our administrative personnel a proper work area. The lower floor is partly taken up by a large area where we can safely store all of our medical equipment in a clean and safe environment and most recently by the P.A.L.S. Thrift Shop which opened in March 2018.