NABEELAH MOHEDEEN AND KAYLYNN PALM
This year 152 teams, comprising of more than 3 000 people, took part in the ninth annual Cancer Association of South Africa’s (CANSA) Relay for Life race at Vygieskraal Stadium in Athlone on Friday.
The race started with the lighting of a candle in honour of those who had succumbed to cancer and in the races that followed, teams ran in relay, ensuring there was someone running all night, as a symbol of the support they are offering to those affected by cancer – a disease that never sleeps.
The event raised more than R260 000 for the organisation.
Cansa committee member, Mandy Adams, said the event, where they also served a three-course meal to more than 200 cancer survivors, was hosted to celebrate, remember, and fight back, by raising funds to educate people in the communities.
“We are here to celebrate cancer survivors, to remember those who have died, and to fight back with everything that we have by raising funds for research, education and in support of communities. We are hoping to reach most of the communities to become aware that there is a an association such as Cansa. We’re hoping to make people aware that they are not alone. We can’t fight alone. We need everybody to support us,” Ms Adams said.
The race started off with the lighting of candles to honour all those who have died from cancer. It also included a fightback lap, the wig lap, the onesie lap, the purple lap, and the single ladies lap.
First place winners Team Pulsar who had 14 participating teams and who have been participating for the past eight years, raised over R28 800. They had 14 participating teams. The team also claimed first prize for the best display.
Team Embrace came in second place with R28 400, while Team Courage won best team spirit.
Pulsar team captain Moegamat Tape Fredricks said the team did not expect to win first prize again this year. “I am ecstatic. We did not expect to win first place again this year,” he said.
“We have won five times already. A lot of people ask me why we do this every year – we do it to create awareness about cancer, awareness is critical. There are so many people who have cancer but they hide it,” Mr Fredricks said.
Galima Gamieldien, spokesperson for Team Pulsar, said their focus was on cervical cancer. The stall was decorated with informative displays and presentations.
“It is important for women to know what is normal for their bodies, and to be aware of symptoms of cancer, as early detection improves treatment outcomes,” she said.
Ms Gamieldien said cancer is one of the most serious diseases and people should be made aware of the various types of cancer.
Fatima Davids from Tafelsig is a member of Team Pulsar and said she has been supporting the Cansa event for seven years.
“We attended the event to support those who have and had cancer. As a team we also aim to create awareness in Cape Town through our fundraisers.
“We urge women and female cancer survivors to encourage one another to adopt a balanced lifestyle and to go for regular screenings in order to reduce their cancer risk or the recurrence of cancer and to detect cancer early,” said Ms Davids.
The Nantes Athletic Club had three teams which participated for the first time. Participant Igshaan Kamish said the team hoped to raise awareness that cancer can be beaten.
“We are here at the Cansa Relay For Life for all cancer patients. We are hoping to achieve awareness about cancer. We took the initiative to start this and got so much feedback that we had to split the team into three teams. Cancer can be beaten. There isn’t a thing that says if you are diagnosed with cancer that you will die. If you fight back I’m sure there is a way for you to live,” Mr Kamish said.
For more information about Cansa, its Care Centres and Care Clinics, call the toll-free line 0800 22 66 22 (Monday to Friday from 8am to 4.30pm), visit the Cansa officer at 37A Main Road, Mowbray, (Monday to Friday from 8am to 4.30pm), or call 021 689 5381.