Relay rallies for life

2017-03-14 16:32
Shireen Marlie, a caregiver from Salt River, doing the lap of honour.

Shireen Marlie, a caregiver from Salt River, doing the lap of honour. (Rashied Isaacs)

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Walkers in 110 teams participated in the Cansa Relay for Life Athlone event this past Friday night. They circled the track at Vygieskraal Stadium, commemorating the lives of those who have died from cancer, cancer survivors and caregivers.

Anthea Lewis, Western Cape coordinator of Cansa’s Tough Living with Cancer (TLC) programme, which focuses on individuals affected by cancer in their formative years, shared her observation about women:

“Many times when we go into the clinics we always see the cancer fighter there, very seldom do we see the husband there. We will see a sister, mother or friend, but very seldom the father.

“That is the same case with children fighting cancer: The person who stands beside them 24/7 is the mother.”

“Sometimes we have households with parents fighting cancer. They have raised five to 10 children, yet that parent is alone fighting cancer.

“We have mothers battling cancer without support, dying on their own. I want to encourage you to live each day like it’s your last because tomorrow is promised to none of us. Leave room for no regret.” Cancer survivor Tougeydah Charles, a 51-year-old resident of Charlesville, celebrated living 10 years free of breast cancer. Charles described the relay as an emotional event but one that allowed individuals to get closure.

“This is my fifth year I’m doing it and it’s just simply awesome. It matters for the community because there are so many people living with the disease. An event like this brings awareness to the community, especially our community.”

Anthea Bingle, chairperson of Cansa’s Athlone branch and a cancer survivor, said the event was an opportunity for survivors to be celebrated and families to be acknowledged.

It was also an important opportunity to better educate the community. She believes the organisation did just that, ensuring participants were well informed by providing cancer-related pamphlets, talking about the importance of prevention, early detection and the different types of existing cancers.

The participating teams contributed to fundraising for Cansa. Proceeds go to various Cansa-affiliated programmes, such as the TLC programme. The community also donated bags of “love” for families affected by cancer and in need of groceries.

“Everybody’s contribution is valuable and it makes an impact. We need to celebrate the small steps. What is important is that everybody can make a contribution. We need more money for research, to find a cure for cancer and we also need more for treatment facilities for cancer patients. If you don’t have medical aid and have to depend on government hospitals, then it’s not easy for a family.”

Charles highlighted the importance of health check-ups, describing how she discovered her own lump during the early stages, essentially saving her life.

“Go for second opinions because second opinions count. What I’ve learnt is that cancer is not the end, it’s just the beginning. We’re here to celebrate, remember and fight back.”

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