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Jun 3, 2022

Celebrating Cancer Survivors

The term cancer once referred to a sickness that you rarely heard about. Now, it’s hard not to know someone who has battled the disease or who has lost a loved one to this deadly illness. Tonight, Sabreena Daly takes a look at cancer, the fighters, big and small and the ones behind the scenes making the difficult road travelled a little easier.


Laura Tucker-Longsworth

Laura Tucker-Longsworth, President, Belize Cancer Society

“We have some cancers that are really presenting us with some vexing situations.”


Sabreena Daly, Reporting

Christen Andrews is thirteen years old. He has a big dream of one day becoming an architect and an engineer. But with a story like Christen’s, no dream is too big having fought and won a battle with leukemia, only less than a year ago. He was ten when he was diagnosed. That’s an age where he should have been playing video games or romping with friends. Instead, he was in Mexico fighting for his life.


Christen Andrews

Christen Andrews, Leukemia Survivor

“Painful. Painful and kinda scary. The first time I gone da Mexico, they put a needle at the right side yah fo tek out bone marrow. It was painful because I had a tumor on my chest and they couldn’t put me to sleep so it was very painful. My pa seh the needle was the size of a cow needle and den deh big. I neva know how big the needle but my pa tell me and my ma too.”


It’s an emotional moment for a father and his son.  But, with his dad at his side, Christen knows he can take on anything.


Laura Tucker-Longsworth

“When the cancer Society was established, it was thought that in Belize, we don’t have people with cancer. Many years later when I was teaching at the school of nursing, we conducted a cap survey, and we found that every family either had or knew someone that had cancer. Well today, now its established that cancer is one of the leading causes for morbidity, sickness, and death.”


According to the World Health Organization, Belize recorded three hundred and ninety-five new cases of cancer in 2020. This was also during the height of COVID-19, a worldwide pandemic. While the types of cancer vary, breast cancer continues to plague our society. Eighty-six new cases were recorded in 2020;it’s twenty-one percent of the total number for that year alone. Dellone Pascascio is the CEO of the Belize Cancer Center. Since 2008, the Cancer Center has offered chemotherapy treatment to patients. Pascascio says that before then, cancer care was considered cross border care.


Dellone Pascascio

Dellone Pascascio, C.E.O., Belize Cancer Center

“If you didn’t have money then you’re kind of out of luck. So, that was the reason why Dr. Grant and I agreed to bring those services, at least the chemotherapy service and establish a referral service for those patients, mostly those patients that were financially indigent.”


Laura Tucker-Longsworth

“Countries where patients are having treatments for cancer delayed have higher rates for morbidity and mortality. It’s a human rights issue, isn’t it? You should be able to get cancer care regardless of your economic status. Its expensive, there’s no denying it. Nobody is denying that but how do we get around it? And so that’s where the conversation for us becomes really dramatic because is it the Government? If you don’t have the funds, do you die?”


The Belize Cancer Society and the Belize Cancer Center have recently formulated a partnership that benefits cancer patients, primarily. Where access to treatment was once only accessible at the Cancer Center’s location in Dangriga, they now have a satellite office in Belize City, on site and supported by the Belize Cancer Society. Nurse Prosper Fijoh is a familiar face at the Dangriga Cancer Center, but today we saw him in Belize City.


Prosper Fijoh

Prosper Fijoh

“In Our job is to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible. We try to set up a situation where them looking for the finances is not the priority to their care. The role of the nurse is also the role of an advocate. It’s also the role of a counselor. So, it is our job to illicit some of the behind-the-scenes issue that a person may carry. Sometimes the road to recovery is not just about getting treatment. Sometimes there are other psychological issues that can exacerbate a person’s condition and this is where your nurse becomes your friend. We become your immediate family.”


And one family member who won’t be seeing the famous recliner anymore came all dressed up for her last treatment. Accompanied by family and close friends, Marylyn Dawson is dressed in clothing she designed specifically for this day—the theme for her attire is blue, for colon cancer. And one special item that was added to the celebration signifies the fight is over; if you use it, you’ve won.


Marylyn Dawson

Marylyn Dawson, Colon Cancer Survivor

“So I have my bell and my bell symbolizes different type of cancer that exists. Each color is different for cancer people. Ringing the bell is my strength and also encouragement for others that the journey you’re going through will be over. It won’t last long. I took my eight chemo and finally the day has reached that I am through it.”


Prosper Fijoh

“On behalf of every stakeholder, we want to present you this little token, this little certificate. It reads you have completed your chemotherapy, and more than anything you are moving forward on your journey to being a cancer survivor. And now we want to hand it over and then at this time, please, as loud as you can, ring your bell and make the loudest noise!”


Looking on the bright side, I’m Sabreena Daly

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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