Virtual proclamation officially kicks off Relay for Life 2021 celebrations

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Dr. Annette David, American Cancer Society Guam Advisory Council member and cancer survivor, gave her testimony about how the pandemic showed island residents that health is central to both physical and economic survival. (PNC photo)

A virtual proclamation was held to bring awareness to cancer and recognize its survivors.

Before COVID-19, the American Cancer Society of Guam’s Relay for Life was usually held annually as a one-day event during which cancer survivors, their families, friends, and volunteers gather to walk in support of the survivors and bring awareness to cancer.

With this year’s theme of “Island Strong: Together We Beat Cancer,” the American Cancer Society of Guam will have different ceremonies and activities spread throughout the rest of the year.

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Friday was the virtual proclamation signing of July being the official launch month of the Relay for Life Celebration 2021. Advocates can now start their fundraising teams, make donations, or volunteer for activities.

During the proclamation, Dr. Annette David, American Cancer Society Guam Advisory Council member and cancer survivor, gave her testimony about how the pandemic showed island residents that health is central to both physical and economic survival.

She commended GovGuam, Public Health, and all of those involved for their active responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, with diseases such as cancer, she says that there are some things that can’t be put on hold and the island must continue to bring awareness and combat cancer, regardless of the circumstances.

“Today, when we talk about cancer treatment, we’re talking about a cure for most of the time. It’s a cure we’re aiming for but the caveat to that is that you need to catch cancer early for a cure to succeed and I speak to you now, not in my role as a physician or even as an ACS board member, but I’m speaking to you from the perspective of someone who was diagnosed with cancer last year,” David said.

She added: “First you need to listen to your body. When there’s something wrong, whether it’s pain, listen to your body. Second lesson is don’t wait, don’t delay because if you delay, you may reduce your chances of a cure and I think this is so true for cancer screenings. So many of us put our health care on hold in the past year and a half because of the coronavirus. Now that life is starting to open up, please, go and get your annual physical, get the screening that you needed to have done in the past year and a half, and finally, the third lesson is never given up because no matter what, there is always a way we can find to help to cure or beat cancer.”

Lt. Governor Josh Tenorio also recognized Dr. David as well as Public Health’s non-communicable disease section in their efforts to promote early cancer detection and prevention.

“In addition to everything she talked about, I think a lot of you know that she’s been, for the longest time, one of the warriors out there against smoking, especially underage consumption of tobacco, alcohol consumption, these early things and these lessons in the younger generation is so important, it does reduce the risk of our people in terms of cancer. And, of course, Guam Department of Public Health and the non-communicable disease section in partnership with Dr. David and many others are really aggressive in trying to educate and inform our people about all the different things they can do to try and prevent susceptibility to cancer,” Tenorio said.

With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, the non-profit has both in-person activities and virtual aspects for all of its events.

The first Relay for Life event will be their Survivor Drive-N-Wave Recognition on July 10 at the Tiyan High School from 2 -5 pm.

For more information on Relay for Life events and their services, check out their website at relayforlife.org/guam.

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