A cancer diagnosis is not always a death sentence as many people are now beating cancer via early detection. The leading cancers found in Belize are breast and cervical cancers with prostate being the most common among the men. Belize Cancer Society continues its education and awareness efforts, pushing for women to get screened. A recent initiative being undertaken by the society is the Cancer Awareness Photo Campaign, in collaboration with the Special Envoy for Women and Children. This morning was the launch of the 2018 initiative which saw the attendance of several cancer survivors as well as friends and supporters. Tara Morgan is a cancer survivor who was diagnosed earlier this year.
Tara Morgan Cancer Survivor: “It was very hard earlier this year finding out that I had Stage 4 breast cancer and I thought that you know it would never happen to me but like I said god has his plan and I guess that this was my plan from him to let me be able to give my testimony today. I mean it was very hard for me and my family because I felt like it was a death sentence because it spread to both my lungs and to my spine. I wasn’t able to move around, my family used to have to assist me to go to and from the bathroom, it was really being able to see your children deteriorating in front of them not knowing that you know mommy is not going to be here. It was really hard but I have good family support and strong spiritual support, that was what we had to lean on and remember that god has the final say and I am going to fight every single day with him by my side and he is going to help me become a cancer survivor.”
Laura Longsworth, President of the Belize Cancer Society, noted that North American women are encouraged to get a mammogram at forty; it’s not a guarantee for early detection but it is essential.
Laura Longsworth President Belize Cancer Society: “We have quite a number of women 28, 30 and onwards who are being diagnosed, some with family history and some without and so we are still tackling that but the big thing for us is that we continue at the Cancer Society to work with the Ministry of Health to make sure we have a comprehensive approach to these cancers, we are not there yet but they are making amazing progress. The Ministry of Health along with the Social Security Board also support children with Cancer and so any child diagnosed with cancer comes through us and are sent immediately for treatment for cancer and so we are making progress but right now this event is to honor those survivors of Breast Cancer and each year for the past few years Miss Kim Simplis Barrow who herself is a breast cancer survivor has been hosting women, getting them dressed up and so on and we normally just released the photos but since last year we have been having a launch and we think it’s a good thing that can evolve to other things and get the women themselves to become champion of other women to help them get their breast checked.”
The Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis Barrow says this initiative is dedicated to all women suffering with cancer.
Kim Simplis Barrow Envoy for Women and Children: “It is the global reality that anyone can be faced with. Their stories give hope to those currently fighting to let them know that they can cry and lament but that they are not allowed to give up. The image portrays that while Cancer makes you incapacitated for a little while it does not destroy you. No matter how discouraged we may feel throughout this strenuous journey we need to keep our heads held high and look forward to the moment that our tragedy become our trail.
On a Belize perspective, while mammograms are recommended after age forty, there have been multiple diagnosis of cancer in women under forty, locally. Today’s launch is the fifth annual Cancer Awareness Photo Campaign.