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May 30, 2016

Thousands March Against Cancer in Belize City

The annual Cancer Walk has been growing over the years, morphing into a powerful voice in the fight against the disease. The trek from Ladyville into the City started early Saturday morning and concluded at the Belize Cancer Society Headquarters hours later. Thousands from all walks of life have lost family or friends, are battling or are survivors of the disease. The walkathon on the Philip Goldson Highway covers a stretch of nine miles; it is held to build awareness of the dreaded disease.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The annual procession of survivors and advocates of cancer awareness is a spectacle to behold, as thousands of men, women and children of all ages and physical abilities make their way on foot from Ladyville to Belize City.

 

Dawn Usher

Dawn Usher, Participant, Cancer Walk 2016

“It was really exciting and since I usually workout every day, it was really nice.”

 

The purpose is to bring attention to the disease in its many forms by educating the Belizean public.  Cancer Walk 2016, fused by its strength in numbers, has achieved that goal.

 

Laura Longsworth, President, Belize Cancer Society

“Cancer Walk has taken on a life of its own.  In the preparatory stage we make the calls and the organization just happens because each person, B.D.F., police, sponsors just fall into place.”

 

That coming together by the business community, as well as government and non-government organizations, including the Belize Cancer Society, is manifested in the massive turnout of pedestrians.  This year is no different.  The snaking train promptly departed from Ladyville at five a.m., led by a group of joggers who trotted at a steady pace along the Phillip Goldson Highway.  The mass of the procession, however, walked briskly, with a clear objective to beat the sun’s rapid ascent and the oppressive heat.

 

Paul Garcia Sr.

Paul Garcia Sr., Participant, Cancer Walk 2016

“Well I’m a repeat pedestrian, I love it.  I suppose this is the only actual type of workout I do so I look forward for this.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of the overall idea here, to raise awareness of cancer and what have you, do you believe that this year’s crowd is bigger than last year’s crowd and therefore the participation is growing?”

 

Paul Garcia Sr.

“Certainly.  Certainly.  I haven’t seen no year that the numbers have dwindled.  No.  Every year it’s consistent.  People tend to get into it.  Some used to be at the Haulover [Bridge] but now everybody’s joining in so it really works.  There are some runners, there are some walkers, there are strugglers but everybody’s into it.”

 

The colloquial for more than one hundred diseases in which cells that are not normal grow and divide quickly; cancer, whether breast, cervical, prostate, or any other rare form, is among the leading causes of death among Belizeans.  The emphasis is on early diagnosis and treatment.

 

Laura Longsworth

Laura Longsworth

“The whole issue of addressing men, prostate cancer, with the cancer challenge ride, is already there.  There’s been a demand for more information from men, they’ve been calling.  So we are going to continue to highlight those cancers that men are particularly vulnerable to, especially prostate cancer.  The Cancer Society is leading the charge in ending cervical cancer.  No woman should die.  That’s the one cancer we could do something about.  We are at the helm of doing the public relations [campaign] for the HPV vaccine which is going to be launched by the Government of Belize, Ministry of Health in October of this year.”

 

For most of the participants in this annual walkathon, cancer is something that they or their loved ones have had to battle, most times coming out on the losing end of this terminal illness.

 

Dawn Usher

“I had a sister that died five years ago from breast cancer.”

 

Ergo, Cancer Walk 2016 has grown exponentially and their involvement is almost always symbolic.

 

Isani Cayetano

“Have you had the issue of cancer to deal with?”

 

Paul Garcia Sr.

“Certainly.  Not the immediate family, however, in my in-laws, a number of them, so that’s the reason I’m doing this and really I need, for myself, I need to be aware.  This is my daughter Paige.  So certainly this is her first walk and she has done well, I must applaud her.  She has done well.  So we gotta do a report once we reach back home.  She’s ridden the last time and no she’s walked this one, so it’s good.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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