January 21, 2013
More than 2,000 people participated in the Susan G. Komen Bahamas Race for the Cure Saturday morning to help raise money for breast cancer research and bring greater national awareness to the disease. "It's amazing to which the community is accepting ownership of this event," said businessman and Chairman of Marathon Bahamas Franklyn Wilson. "That is really the key where it moves beyond any single company to a true community effort. It's just awesome. "Look at the kaleidoscope of people here. There are very few occasions in The Bahamas that we ever see this kaleidoscope of people."
The 5k race started at Church Street at the foot of the Sidney Poitier Bridge and ended on Paradise Island where scores of breast cancer survivors were celebrated. Chandini Portteus, vice president of research at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, noted the importance of the event. "I know that many of us have experienced the loss of those that we love, and those that we cherish to a disease that has taken them far too early," Portteus said. "Komen over the last 30 years has given over $1.2 billion to community health work and over $750 million in research to study about breast cancer and in the past three years we've been excited to be here in The Bahamas funding important work in the communities and funding important research to understand why here the disease is often more aggressive and comes earlier than among other women."
The event's honorary patron is Willie Moss, a prominent Grand Bahama resident and 19-year breast cancer survivor. "Getting Willie Moss as the honorary patron of this effort was huge," Wilson said. "Moss has played a role in bringing the Grand Bahama community into this. "There are very few occasions where Grand Bahama and New Providence cooperate on anything in our country like on this marathon, and particularly the Susan. G. Komen Race." The Komen race had a long list of corporate sponsors, many of which had teams represented in the race. "The corporate community recognizes the need [for raising awareness]. It just goes to show that we are together," said Wilson, chairman of Sunshine Insurance.
"We want to solve problems." Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez, former director of the National AIDS Programme, said the event was reminiscent of what he and his team did over decades in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS in The Bahamas. "You have to create awareness and do public education and try to prevent illness and that's what the Cancer Society and all the workers here are trying to do," Gomez said. "The other aspect of it with this particular illness (cancer) is to emphasize prevention and early detection. "Of course, with the state-of-the-art equipment we now have functioning in both Princess Margaret Hospital and the Rand [Memorial Hospital] we have the facilities to make very early diagnosis once people come in."
Wilson also noted that women in The Bahamas are diagnosed with breast cancer at much younger ages than is the norm by international standards. "It's alarming," he said. "Something is wrong, the fact that it's happening at such a young age. "When they are diagnosed the problem is so advanced that it's a real struggle to survive. So it's a question of the reality. "Recognize that men also have breast cancer. Men are in denial about breast cancer today the way women were 30 years ago. The fact of the matter is men have breast cancer too. So, part of this awareness is to build that."
About 1,000 more people participated in Race for the Cure this year than last year, according to organizers. "We could not have dreamt this. That is a lesson," Wilson said. "Everyone out there today who doesn't see the future, who doesn't see how they're going to solve problems or what's going to happen, look at this event and realize that you don't know the future. Just do the best you could do. That's all we did and look where we are."
Race for the Cure preceded Marathon Bahamas, which was held yesterday. Sunshine Insurance (Agents & Brokers) Ltd, with MARSH, its international affiliate, in its role as the lead sponsor and organizer for Marathon Bahamas, has fostered a strategic partnership between Marathon Bahamas and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the global leader of the breast cancer movement and the world's largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists. Organizers say it's a partnership that could significantly impact the health of Bahamians, especially in the areas of breast cancer and other women's health issues. One hundred percent of the money raised by the Race for the Cure will remain in The Bahamas to fund breast cancer and women's health programs, officials said.
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