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May 30, 2011

Walk to raise awareness of cancer

The Cancer Walk was one of main events in Cancer Awareness Month that concludes at the end of May. And this year, the turnout was impressive.  Organizers say the event has grown by leaps and bounds. Thousands laced up their walking shoes for the annual march to promote awareness of the disease as well as to celebrate survivors.  Also among the huge crowd were many who have lost family or friends to the disease. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The annual procession of pedestrians from Ladyville to Belize City at daybreak on Saturday attracted more people this time around than it has since it began fifteen years ago.  In fact Cancer Walk has grown exponentially, doubling 2010’s record of a thousand five hundred participants.

Laura Longsworth, President, Belize Cancer Society

Laura Longsworth

“Well we’ve been doing a lot of promotion but the truth of the matter is that the community is now onboard with us and it has become an annual event and people are looking forward to it.”

Even with its overwhelming success organizers ran into logistical problems prior to embarking on the nine-mile hike.  The ubiquitous tee shirts that have become a must-have for all Cancer Walks arrived at the last-minute.

Laura Longsworth

“We got our tee shirts very late and I’m here to tell you that [within] a very short period we sold all our tee shirts, over a thousand tee shirts.  So that just goes to show you that people are with it.  They’re onboard with it.  It has taken a lot of planning and we also know that what we do is send out a lot of fliers to corporate bodies and companies and we pass [them on] through emails and everything else and so I think that people are now onboard with the walk and so we are very pleased about that.”

Martha Hendy-Skeen

For some the arduous journey by foot is a show of solidarity for those who are afflicted with various forms of the terminal illness.  For fifty-two year old Martha Hendy-Skeen, a survivor of both uterine and breast cancers, being able to take part in the event is proof that she has overcome the illness.

Martha Hendy-Skeen, Cancer Survivor

“This year is the first time I am here for the walk.  I came from New York just for this walk and I am so proud to see so many people came out this morning to walk the eight and a half miles or eight miles, I don’t know.  I did more than what I thought I would because myself as a survivor, and I had a mild heart attack two weeks ago, so I did pretty good with the support of my family.”

It is precisely that encouragement that has allowed many to endure the fight against cancer.  While there is no cure for the disease early detection can help to prolong the lives of those who are affected.  Upon completing the trek participants are encouraged to sign a memorial.  The writings on the wall are a tribute to both survivors and victims.  Today’s exercise is symbolic to Bernadette Ellis who attended out of respect for her loved ones who have passed.

Bernadette Ellis

Bernadette Ellis, Participant, Cancer Walk

“This is very special for me because I am doing it in honor of two people that are very close to me.  My father-in-law, number one, he was like a dad to me.  We were very close and he just recently died [at the] end of March so I’m getting a little bit emotional but he was very special to me and so first I did this in honor of him.  It was very difficult because I’m not a morning person.”

Despite waking up a bit sluggish many who have gathered for the pilgrimage are prepared to go the distance.  With almost three thousand pairs of sneakers pounding the asphalt in rhythm there are many lighthearted chit-chats.  There‘s also pouring sweat and a unified sense of purpose.  Interestingly, quite a number of young people are up for the challenge.

Laura Longsworth

“When I see all the young people I was like this is what we need to keep our community healthy.  This is what we need to ensure that our young people understand the importance of exercise.  It’s good for them emotionally.  It’s good for them spiritually.”

Curiously however, more families have turned out in support of cancer awareness today than they have for rebuking the malignancy of crime and violence affecting Belizean society. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

According to the Cancer Society, as many as twelve percent of deaths annually are related to cancer.

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4 Responses for “Walk to raise awareness of cancer”

  1. CHECK IT OUT says:

    in all the cancer promotion all we could come up with was a current Minister of Government boasting that he went to the USA accompanied by his good friend the Director of Health Services to get state of the art robotic surgery for prostate cancer. what he failed to mention was what was the cost and who paid the bill. which ordinary belizean can afford this. this was a slap in the face to all cancer patients of Belize..

  2. Earl Grey says:

    NEXT………THEY WILL DO A WEIGHT LOSS WALK….. for a slimmer healthier Belize!!!

  3. unbiased says:

    More should be done walks are good yes to create awareness but its time the government should invest in radiotherapy and chemotherapy equipment to cure cancer the rate of people being diagnosed with cancer is rising. To travel abroad to Merida or Guatemala City for treatment is costly in addition passage, hotel and food, and we are not talking about a three days treatment the minimum is 2 to 3 Months treatment and the follow up treatments which are required every 3 to 6 months. Many belizeans cannot afford to travel abroad to seek treatment and thus die untreated and the center in Dangriga is a joke. I am commenting from a personal experience my mother was diagnosed 3 years ago and the money we have spent with treatment and follow up is not little but its worth every dollar spent, she is in good health. so please people lets start to demand better health care services it can happen to anyone. Government is spending money on unnecessary projects its time they invest in the right ones!!

  4. Elgin Martinez says:

    GOB don’t even care about the murder rate.As a result why would these blood suckers care about the average Belizean that has to choose between paying for a pound of rice or Chemotherapy.When are we going to realize that our leaders are all about themselves and their cronies.Kudos to our brothers and Sisters who took the initiative to stand for what is right.

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