Spreading hope and awareness

2020-02-25 06:03
An emotional Aqeel Hope sheds a tear as part of the cancer survivor team leaders as they escort the procession around the Turfhall sport complex to officially open the CANSA Relay for Life Athlone’s 24-hour event on Friday 21 February. Seen in the photo with him are, left to right, Hellen Willemberg, Aqeel, Myra America, Abduragiem Rajie and Rashaad Cole.

An emotional Aqeel Hope sheds a tear as part of the cancer survivor team leaders as they escort the procession around the Turfhall sport complex to officially open the CANSA Relay for Life Athlone’s 24-hour event on Friday 21 February. Seen in the photo with him are, left to right, Hellen Willemberg, Aqeel, Myra America, Abduragiem Rajie and Rashaad Cole.

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Over the years the Cancer Association of South Africa’s (CANSA) annual Relay For Life has become an anticipated charity event for many communities, and this year’s overnight relay on Friday 21 February into Saturday 22 February was no different.

The Athlone leg of the event took place at Turfhall Stadium and featured an array of activities that paid homage to survivors, current patients, their families and those who lost their lives as a result of cancer.

“Cancer is definitely not a death sentence. It doesn’t mean that you are going to die. If it’s detected at an early stage, which happened in my case, then there’s much that can be done,” said Bridgette Watlington Carelse, a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed in 1995 and has been participating in the relay since its inception.

Carelse hopes the youth will be more aware of the different types of lifestyles and how unhealthy habits can negatively impact their health.

“Our young people will come to realise how precious life is and that life choices are important because it does contribute to the condition of your health,” she said.

Sakeenah Oberay, a relay supporter for more than five years, recalled how tough it was to see a loved one battle with an illness. “My granddaughter has been diagnosed with leukaemia and it has been a very difficult period – it still is.”

Oberay added that early detection is key. “If she had not been diagnosed with leukaemia, we wouldn’t have known about the G1 ward at Red Cross (Hospital) and all the brilliant work being done.”

Karen Jansen, secretary of the CANSA Relay For Life Athlone, said they managed to raise R213 411 at this year’s event.

The proceeds are to finance various initiatives like Tough Living with Cancer (TLC) and education and awareness.

“There are so many cancer patients out there not on medical aid and our hospitals are overloaded with long waiting queues for appointments,” she said.

“We believe more communities should be educated and supported so that early detection is possible and can save more lives. Our involvement gets the message out via educating teams so that one day we can live in a world without cancer,” she concluded.

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