Under the slogan “early detection saved lives”, dozens of people turned up for the Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk in Georgetown on Sunday.
The event was organised by the Cancer Institute of Guyana, under the theme “We walk as one”, as part of its campaign to raise awareness on breast cancer.
Participants gathered on the Burnham Hard Court at Parade Ground at 06:00h and moved east along Middle Street into Waterloo Street then onto Church Street. The procession then turned into Irving Street and headed onto Lamaha Street, coming back around to Camp Street and then west into Middle Street as they headed back to the starting point.
Speaking with Guyana Times, Outreach Director at the Cancer Institute of Guyana, Dr Syed Ghazi said he was pleased with Sunday’s turnout. Pointing out that they are not trying to commercialise the event, he said they tried to get as many supporters, as well as participants including survivors and sponsors, as they could have to show up for the walk.
According to Dr Ghazi, the main message they want people to take away from this year’s awareness walk is that breast cancer is curable but only if it is detected early and the only way it can be detected is by doing regular screenings.
“If we find this cancer in the earlier stages, it will be treated… You can’t be a pessimist and say ‘cancer is incurable’ and ‘cancer is a death warrant’ – no! Cancer is curable and the people here today at this walk, dancing and exercising they are showing positivity that cancer can be cured if detected early. So get screened and if you are detected early then it can save your life,” the Cancer Institute’s Outreach Director posited.
This message was also reiterated by one survivor, who has been free of cancer for about a year and a half now. She underscored the importance of early detection.
“When we were walking we talked about [how] early detection saves lives and we as a group – as survivors, as a family – have to do our part and not just say it. If everybody here takes somebody and say let’s go and get tested then that ‘early detection saves life’ makes sense. We each have to do something,” she contended.
Meanwhile, according to the Dr Ghazi, while they are in the forefront of early detection, the institute, in collaboration with the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) and the Australian High Commission, will be rolling out a campaign in the coming days that will see a team visiting Mabaruma in Region One (Barima-Waini) to screen about 200 women.
He noted that the programme will also extend to the other eight administrative regions until May next year to screen 1000 women for cervical cancer by doing pap smear testings.
“So it’s not just breast cancer we’re tackling. We are out here to fight cervical cancer, we are out here to fight prostate cancer – all the cancers that our community is suffering from,” Dr Ghazi stressed.
On this note, he encouraged persons to continue to support the Cancer Institute of Guyana, volunteer and donate so that they can help more people especially the poor and needy, who cannot afford cancer treatment. As such, Dr Ghazi is appealing to corporate Guyana to step forward.
However, some companies had already taken the cue and threw their support behind the fight against cancer. In fact, local telecommunications giant, Digicel Guyana, was a co-sponsor of Sunday’s cancer walk.
Speaking with Guyana Times, Communications Manager Vidya Sanicharra said Digicel is proud to be a part of events such as these to raise awareness on cancer, as it has done over the years.
“This year we decided to get the staff involved and invite them to come on the walk with us as we partnered with the Cancer Institute of Guyana. We would’ve always partnered with them but this year we did it a little different in that we actually had staff coming on the walk with us.
So cancer is something we’re committed to, we’re always gonna be behind the fight and always strive to contribute in whatever ways we can as a good corporate citizen. There is no doubt that anytime there is a need for cancer support or any other support that we’re gonna be there,” she stated.
In addition, another company – Guyana Beverage Inc – through its Oasis water brand was another corporate sponsor of Sunday’s Breast Cancer Awareness Walk.