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May 18, 2017

How You Can Support Cancer Patients

It is Cancer Awareness Month and there is a flurry of activities taking place across the country.  In Belize the upcoming two weekends will see two of the Belize Cancer Society’s trademark awareness activities; the Cancer Challenge Ride taking place this weekend and then the Cancer Awareness Walk. Tonight in Healthy Living, we check in with the Belize Cancer Center about the line-up of activities for the remainder of the month.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Every May, there is a concerted effort to remind Belizeans of the threats and risks of cancer. Every year, large scale activities are coordinated to highlight the solidarity in the fight against this disease and prevention methodologies. Yet in Belize, the leading types of cancer affecting both men and women are preventable. This highlights the need for continued education and awareness.

 

Heather Reneau

Heather Reneau, Senior Administrator, Belize Cancer Society

“We celebrate our Cancer Awareness month from May first to May thirty-first and this year our activities are guided under the theme “BCS: improving access to cancer care.” So the cancer society is chiefly responsible for education of cancer and other diseases but this month especially we take the education awareness to another level. So we try to create activities that incorporate the entire community. So when we find that we have all persons gather in the community that is the time that we can maximize our efforts for the year.”

 

The Belize Cancer Society and its district branches host a myriad of activities countrywide to raise the level of awareness. In Belize City, there is the two-day Cancer Challenge Ride that ends in a mini fair specifically targeting the education about prostate cancer. The largest event is the annual cancer awareness walk.

 

Heather Reneau

“When we started the walk if you see behind me. You’ll see how small the walk started. The objective of this walk was to build the awareness of cancer to make it known that cancer is Belize and there’s ways that we beat it. There are survivors and you come together as a community and we foster that friendship that relationship. It is a two-fold activity it is also our chief fundraising activity for the society. We sell our thirsts this time of the year so that we can sustain ourselves for the rest of the year.”

 

The fundraising is an objective still missed by many. The walk sees the participation of over five thousand Belizeans, yet only about one fifth of the participants support by purchasing the T-shirts. Reneau says they’ve been encouraging people to recognize that their contribution goes a long way in the daily work of the cancer society and its assistance to cancer patients and survivors. Once a person is diagnosed with cancer at minimum a treatment of chemotherapy and radiation can cost from ten to twenty thousand dollars; many have paid much more. Even getting diagnosis tests prove costly for some persons and that’s where the organizations sometimes steps in.

 

Heather Reneau

“The funds are for the Cancer Society is chiefly for education; treatment and promotion of our cancer patients both adults and children because we have support group activities. We have other functions for our cancer survivors that we hold during the year. These things come at a cost. So the operational cost for the society is very minimal because we work on a stipend we only two paid employees. Everyone else is a volunteer. Our president, madam speaker, she volunteers as well. They don’t get a salary. So that is how we’re able to keep our expenses minimal but we can maximize our health promotion and our outreach to the community. With that thirty dollars that you purchase a shirt, you’re helping to educate somebody; you’re helping treatment for somebody; you’re helping a child to travel to Merida to access the cancer care that he needs. So your donation of one, thirty dollars does a lot. Some think it’s minimal and some think it’s a whole of thirty dollars for a shirt, but because of that shirt and keep in mind that we promote healthy activities so when you finish that cancer walk you can use it for your morning walks you can use it to do your gardening, your shopping. So it’s a memorabilia that you will have to say: I supported the cancer society in 2017 and I reiterate what our executive, our president: Please don’t walk in last year’s shirt. If you can and you are able to support kindly purchase a shirt for this year.”

 

This cancer awareness month will also include a day of free screening tests and educational activities at a special health fair to be held on May thirty-first.

 

Heather Reneau

“So May thirty-first any person interested in having a blood sugar, or blood pressure a free pap smear, aids testing or any testing or education you may need. Come to the Cancer Society office and you can meet us here we have raffles from coming from Buttonwood Bay, they’re giving free mammograms, Atlantic Insurance has a cancer care plan as well. So that when you’re first diagnosed it’s not a death sentence because we have to educate people not only of the risk factors and living a healthy lifestyle but preparing your life if this occurs. So this will be a unique fair and we’re partnering with the National Drug Abuse Control Council.”

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