Cancer is a killer! But the good news is that public support for cancer awareness is spreading rapidly!
A record number, more than 5,000 Belizeans, joined the annual cancer walk organized by the Belize Cancer Society, from Ladyville to Belize City on Saturday morning, May 25.
This was more than double the number who walked last year.
The turnout included athletes, students of many city schools, the families of cancer victims and organizations such as the Women’s Department, and this year, for the first time, the Belize Red Cross.
One might ask how does a healthy person walking nine miles help someone who is dying of cancer?
Unlike AIDS, cancer is not incurable, but the key to successful treatment is to catch it in its early stages.
The awareness campaign is designed to educate the general public about the importance of regular medical check-ups, so that if someone is diagnosed with cancer, the doctor can nip it in the bud.
Women also need to learn to examine their breasts for unusual lumps as a way to detect early signs of breast cancer, and get a doctor’s advice as soon as possible.
Cervical cancer is another deadly form of the disease affecting women, and early detection by pap smear can be the stitch in time that saves lives.
Cancer is a disease that slowly spreads to the rest of the body, and once it has spread, surgery will not solve the problem.
The only alternative at that stage may be chemotherapy or radiation treatment, which has a lesser chance of success.
They are also more expensive and come with unpleasant side-effects like hair-loss, nausea, heart stress and a reduced resistance to other diseases.
The Belize Cancer Society, founded by Juliet Soberanis, who subsequently died of cancer, is a support group to help people living with cancer and cancer survivors, be they adults or children.
The large turn out for Saturday’s walk reflects the growing number of Belizeans who have family member(s) living with cancer or who have died of the disease, and the many others who are networked through friends – the extended family of cancer victims.
Now that doctors have a better understanding of what causes cancer, the most effective weapon in the fight is education.
Prevention is better than cure. Substances which cause cancer have been identified, such as cigarettes, and possibly some chemical preservatives.
People who have family members who have had cancer or who have died of cancer have an increased likelihood of contracting the disease themselves.
Eating and living healthy, with plenty of exercise, is one of the best ways to avoid cancer.
The walk helped its participants achieve a sense of what their body can do when pushed to the limit, and how good they felt afterwards.
In Belize we are fortunate to have access to a lot of fresh farm produce, fruit and vegetables, which are unprocessed and have no chemical additives.
Fresh meat, fish and chicken are also readily available and affordable.
There is really no need for us to consume any processed or canned food which may contain chemical additives or preservatives.
The Belize Cancer Society extends an invitation to everyone to get up and join next year’s cancer walk and begin to enjoy a healthier life-style as the key to avoiding cancer and its attendant illnesses.