Historical Feature Story
By: Sashelly Vargas
Since 1993 the American Cancer Society (ACS) had been working with “Making Strides against Breast Cancer” in the United States; it came to Puerto Rico in 2001 and is called the ‘March for a Cause Breast Cancer’. Until 1993 in the US, millions of walkers have raised funds to help breast cancer patients fight against it; in addition, also walkers from Puerto Rico.
Breast cancer is a type of cancer formed in breast tissues (in the ducts and lobules). However, this type of cancer can occur in both sexes, woman and men.
The American Cancer Society and their volunteers have being coordinating the initiative of the “March of a Cause Breast Cancer” to create awareness to the citizens about the prevention and detection of cancer. This march is organized in the month of October because it is listed as the month of cancer alert against cancer. Furthermore, it is made to inform women and the general community of the importance of regular mammogram.
For this reason, Mayagüez citizens dressed in pink October 29, 2011 for one of five marches and the last in the West Unit. Walkers from this town and from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) showed sympathy for those people that are going through or are survivors of the disease. Hundreds of people went to support and help raise money for the need of these patients.
Since some students of the UPRM have relatives that suffer from this illness or are survivors of this cause, they collaborated in this activity. The UPRM has been really collaborative and supportive with the ACS in the cause of cancer. Also, the department of Business Administration of the UPRM promoted the event, letting students who have not heard about the event to participate.
When the march started, the energy of all who were present in such activity was felt. Survivors and their relatives marched along with the ones that were supporting the cause. With a lot of noise and uproar, they all marched together around the plaza of Mayagüez.
People standing outside from their homes, works, bakeries, watched them pass with joy and enthusiasm. The traffic stopped for these moment and streets were crowded with walkers. At the end of the march, when all were gathered in the center of the plaza, the “Mayaguez Indians,” the baseball team of Mayagüez, passed promoting the baseball season and gave caps and other souvenirs to the walkers.
The director of the ACS West Unit approached the walkers with a message. Then, the organizers of the event put the public to dance to the sound of “Zumba” dance.
This initiative stems from the need for prevention programs and early detection of breast cancer. In Puerto Rico, there were 23 editions of this event around the entire island to promote the fight against breast cancer. In fact, the ACS West Unit is covering the event in 15 towns from Isabela to Sabana Grande, but this year’s event took place in Maricao, Añasco, Cabo Rojo, Aguadilla and Mayagüez.
According to Magdalys González, coordinator of cancer control ACS West Unit, and Juan C. Mejías, director of ACS West Unit: “ ‘March for a Cause Breast Cancer’ is done by buying shirts, organizing groups, and identifying support groups from different sectors of the community that help the fundraiser, which become a help for breast cancer patients. The collected funds in the march are used for mammography payments, wigs, prosthesis and bras.” The impact of this initiative for the community is the education to citizens, especially for young individuals about the importance of conserving a good health and visiting the doctor periodically.
This year, they decided to have a different theme that is “Ponte tu Brasier Rosado” which means “Put on your pink bra.” The reason for this theme is “because the bra is an undergarment and distinguish every woman,” Magdalys said.
“The pink bra has been selected as an icon of the prevention, inviting the community to put on or use the pink bra as an alert,” Juan mentioned.
The American Cancer Society reports that the statistics of cancer is one of eight women and one of 10,000 men suffer from this illness. This means that men are not exempt from this disease; the message of cancer is not exclusive for women. This emphasizes that if a man has a woman that he really loves, they should get involved in the campaign. Prevention and early detection is getting results because every year more women and men, thanks to these campaigns, are visiting their medic and fulfilling the mammography. “The statistics shows evidence of increase in breast cancer detect on time and mortality decreasing,” Juan said.