The Brusly community, and surrounding areas, took to the streets to raise cancer awareness during the fourth annual 1-mile Cancer Awareness Walk in Brusly Saturday morning, October 12.
The mile long walk’s route, which starts and ends at Alexander Park, goes across LA-1 on W. St. Francis St. onto Vaughn Drive, back across LA-1 from E. Main St. to S. Labauve Ave.
The event’s coordinator and creator, Tanya Johnson, said that about 300 people participated in this year’s walk and donated money to support cancer awareness.
“The walk has grown tremendously. The word is getting out,” she said. “The Brusly community is really supporting the walk, it was a great success.”
Johnson began the cancer awareness walk in 2010 after losing her sister-in-law and grandfather to cancer.
“What I wanted to do was put footsteps to the street to come against cancer,” she said. “And out of all I knew that with the community, the only way we could come against cancer was that we pull together and do it together. Because I believe that only together that we can make a difference.”
Johnson said that she realized that cancer had effected so many people, she believed that she could find others that would support walking a mile to raise awareness.
“It gives people awareness and it raises money for lots of good research that makes treatment better and better the longer they keep pressing forward,” said Cyndi Jones, a five-year breast cancer survivor who works at the WBR Parish Library. “The more money they raise, the more research they can do, the better the treatment options are.”
Jones said that she was walking the mile for herself and her mother, a 15-year cancer survivor, as well as her best friend and co-worker, Julie Aillet, a 2-year breast cancer survivor.
Aillet said that she walked her mile for her husband who died of pancreatic cancer four years ago and her step-son who died of a brain tumor in 1998, as well as friends she has that have had/have cancer.
“It’s not only touched me, but it’s touched my family. And I couldn’t even tell you how many friends I have who are breast cancer survivors,” Aillet said. “I have two friends that I recently found out are going through breast cancer right now. I’m dedicating this walk to them.”
She said that it is of utmost importance to get a yearly mammogram.
“It’ll save your life,” she said. “The problem is that a lot of women think they can wait two years, that it’s not going to matter; it does matter. My tumor grew in one year and one day. What would it have done had I waited two years? Would I even be here today?”
Velvetta Brown, 48, said that she decided to walk the mile-long walk for the first time after her father died of cancer earlier in the year.
Brown said that her father drove himself to the hospital where doctors found cancerous cells in his fluid, but couldn’t find a tumor – she said he died a few days later.
“It caught us off guard,” she said. “We didn’t realize he was that sick. It’s a day-to-day struggle to try to get past. It’s hard, but we’re going to make it.”
Brown said that the mile was a lot for her to walk, but every time she thought about quitting, she pictured her father.
“I thought I couldn’t make it, but I keep seeing my dad,” she said during the tail end of the mile. “I know he’s smiling, cause that’s the way he was. He’s saying, ‘you can do it Vel, you can do it.’”
Dr. Angela Gooden, 51, of Baton Rouge, said that she decided to come to West Baton Rouge and walk with the community simply to support life and to “support the cure.”
Gooden, a 15-year breast cancer survivor, was given three months to live after her cancer diagnosis. She said that through chemotherapy, radiation treatments, therapy and God’s healing, she is still very much alive.
“I stand for all of those that are going through, all of those that have been diagnosed, all of those that have succumb to breast cancer,” Gooden said. “We stand unified because we know we can fight.”
She said that breast cancer is not just a woman’s illness, saying that plenty of men have also been diagnosed with breast cancer, adding that it is, indeed, important to do self examinations, regularly see a physician and know your family’s history related to cancer.
Johnson said that the mile walk this year focused on letting people know to “keep the faith and never give up hope, because God is still working miracles.” She added “And together we’re going to make a difference to come against cancer.”