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Jun 1, 2015

Thousands Walked the Walk for Cancer!

Cancer has touched the lives of almost every Belizean in some way – and on Saturday thousands united to raise awareness of the deadly disease. It was a massive show of support and solidarity, perhaps the biggest ever, as Belizeans from every corner of the district walked or ran from Ladyville to Belize City. Our News Five team was along for the inspiring journey and Mike Rudon has the story.   

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

From as early as four-thirty Saturday morning thousands already crowded the Phillip Goldson Highway in Ladyville, preparing to make the annual trek to Belize City. The initiative was started maybe seventeen years ago by the founder of the Belize Cancer Society, Juliet Soberanis, and it has grown beyond all expectations.

 

Kim Soberanis, Daughter of Juliet Soberanis

Kim Soberanis

“It has come a long way. We started about seventeen years ago, and now the crowd is huge and it’s getting bigger and bigger every year. The spirits are high.”

 

Reporter

“Your mom must be smiling to see something like this.”

 

Kim Soberanis

“I know. I was thinking the same thing inside just looking out. I’m like, you know, this was her dream…what she wanted to see.”

 

The move towards the city started even before five, with many persons running the distance…thousands more walking determinedly…some behind this music truck which gave the event a distinctly carnival air. But whether they walked, ran or just sauntered along, these Belizeans are sending one message – we all need to learn more about cancer and how we can fight it, because it does not discriminate. That is a hard lesson some survivors have learned.

 

Marisela Young

Marisela Young, Cancer Survivor

“I know for a fact there are a lot of people who can’t even get testing, and so the Centre really comes in handy for that. And during my time I had four friends that had cancer, were diagnosed after me, and they died. So I know what it means to be out here.”

 

Kim Barrow, Cancer Survivor

Kim Barrow

“I’m here today to support cancer survivors, to support those who are suffering from cancer and to really create awareness of what this insidious disease can really do to someone.”

 

And even as the event grows, there is an awareness that more needs to be done. Every week there are families begging for financial assistance to help a loved one get treatment for cancer. And every week, the death toll mounts.

 

Kim Barrow

“The truth is that we have been seeing an increase in the number of people who are suffering from cancer, and so I really encourage businesses, those who can support, to please support the Cancer Society in every way they can. We are seeing a lot of children suffering from this disease so we really need all the help we can possibly get for these children.”

 

Karen Rosito

Karen Rosito, Wellness Coordinator, BTL

“I think, honestly, and I’m sorry Mr. Government, that the government really needs to get involved more in order to support the Cancer Centre, especially the one in Dangriga where they do a lot of good work, chemotherapy and all that.”

 

That plea, an incessant one, may have been heard, as there is now a move towards, if not a comprehensive plan…then at least a structure which will seek to do more for those who can’t help themselves.

 

Laura Longsworth, President, Belize Cancer Society

Laura Longsworth

“One thing that we don’t have in Belize is a comprehensive cancer plan out of the Ministry of Health. But we have developed partnerships with the Ministry, Pan-American health and other stakeholders who are all pitching in, including the Belize Cancer Centre in Dangriga which is offering treatment. So what we are doing is that we are coming together, and it is happening as we speak, and I think an announcement will be made shortly of a plan to at least address the issue of our children who are always on TV begging, which is a horrible thing to observe.”

 

But for today, as the crowd gathered in front of the Cancer Society for a final moment of togetherness in the cause, the event was a spectacular success by any measurement.

 

Laura Longsworth

“Today has been a remarkable day. First of all the landscape of the walkers…the dynamics of the walkers has changed. Today we say a drove of young people leading the walk, and they were here first, within an hour, hour and a half, and entire yardful of young people.”

 

Krystal Drysdale

Krystal Drysdale, Cancer Walk Participant

“Behind the walk has a lot of meaning. Not everybody’s family but most families have people with cancer and my grandfather died from cancer. So I just decided to walk this morning.”

 

Paul Diaz, Cancer Walk Participant

Paul Diaz

“I think that by doing the walk it enhances people and it educates people about the walk and it shows people that cancer is something that is affecting everyone.”

 

Tishel Solis

Tishel Solis, Cancer Walk Participant

“I think that even though we do educate people about it, we don’t really know exactly how severe it is, especially until you have someone that you know, or you, personally go through something like that, then you truly understand the heartaches that you go through when you have cancer.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Mike Rudon.

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