Today is being observed as World Cancer day. The Belize Cancer Society was formed in 1996 which makes it twenty years in existence. The Cancer Society utilizes this day to launch their yearly activities as well as to bring awareness of the disease to society. Love news spoke to Laura Longsworth President of Belize Cancer Society who told us how the cancer society supports the public.
“We use this time to start reminding people that we have to take care of ourselves, what the leading cases of cancer are and what we’re doing at the cancer society to keep the community engaged in Cancer care initiatives. In terms of World Cancer Day we have two videos that we are airing and one is on cervical cancer and the other is a documentary that was aired at the World Health Organization meeting in Geneva in December. I was privileged to be there for the launch. So those are the highlights and also to tell people that when the Cancer Society started twenty years ago and this is like our twentieth anniversary it was all community based. Our founder didn’t have anywhere to turn and so the Cancer Society evolved through that and now we are recognized as a partner by the Ministry of Health and by the community. We partnered with the community and people will come to our doors to answer questions and for guidance; ;that is what we do.”
Longsworth also spoke about how much the society has grown in the public and private sector recognizing the importance of cancer. Longworth added that even when funds are low it is their jobs to provide any service possible.
“We’re also happy that the country has also evolved in the private and public sector in terms of our experts. We have physician specialists in all different fields that support our patients and quite often patients do not recognize or realize that the services that they’re seeking abroad are available right here in country. We help to guide them to those services because we can no longer afford to be traveling abroad for treatment; people are complaining. At the Cancer Society we support men and women who come for transportation or to pay for cat scans and so on and those things deplete our funds a lot and so we find ourselves in a situation where we have to be constantly fundraising and this year we will be focusing on moving towards that kind of financial sustainability so that we don’t have to be worrying about the day to day operations because we are not going to turn back, we have got to take care of people who come here for guidance and support.”
As you may know, certain foods and additives are cancerous. Longsworth gave us some self-empowering ways that we can practice to help prevent cancer.
“We can learn from the experience of other countries like the Philippines. They place a sin tax on cigarettes and they were able to reduce the whole issue of Cancer and smoking by fifty percent so its just an amazing thing that we can do. There are many things that we can do, we can do labeling, we can look at our fat intake making sure children understand that they can have their juice but don’t add sugar to their juice, reduction of sugar, reduction of fats and all those things. Those are empowering things, we can do that in our homes, in our schools, in our work places. We can teach one, we can carry one with us to the clinic to have a pap smear, a breast exam and so on. There are empowering things we can do. I think we can do that and at the same time utilize the public sector for health care services because it’s either minimal cost or free of cost.”
The leading cancer in men is prostate cancer. While most may thing breast cancer is the leading cancer in women, cervical cancer has been the leading cancer. Belize Cancer Society was established by Cancer educator and activist Juliet Orosco Soberanis.