Today’s annual Cancer Care Symposium was held under the theme, “Caring, Coping, Surviving: Cancer Control – Not Beyond Us!” Presenters from Belize and other countries discussed global strategies for health and survivorship of all cancers, early detection and control, and put renewed focus on some of the leading killers including cervical, prostate, breast and skin cancers in women and children. We spoke with Senior Administrator for the Belize Cancer Society, Heather Reneau.
“Our Symposium is a health care symposium that is geared towards cancer coping and strategies. This year we have a especially chosen women and children cancers. If you noticed, we have brought in a number of international presenters, some of them are Belizeans and some of them are foreigners, however they will be speaking on cervical cancer, the HPV virus, family and overall survivorship. They will be assisting families in learning about coping strategies , what to do when dealing with cancer, diagnosis and after treatment, so we will be having a number of presentations today, The Cancer Society has partnered with BFLA, Ministry of Health, UNESCO, The American Cancer Society and the Health Care. We are presently doing free pap smear campaigns to at risk women in Belize. So, our symposium is our educational aspect of the project that we are running and we have seen women coming out and having been checked for the presence of the HPV.”
According to Reneau, Belize is in the process of developing a cancer registry to profile and prepare statistics on cancers occurring in Belize. Prostate cancer is a leading killer of men; women are most affected by and ashamed about cervical cancer and the human papillomavirus (HPV), and children have increased instances of leuakemia and lymphoma. Guest speaker was Senator Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, who told the story of tragically losing her only child, three year old son Kail, months shy of his fourth birthday after a reoccurrence of rare type of brain tumor known as ependymoma with which he was diagnosed at just 2 years old. The event is part of the annual Cancer Awareness Month activities which culminate in the annaul Cancer Walk from Ladyville to Belize City on May 30.