By Lori Lyn Lirio
THE incidence of cancer in the Mariana islands rose by 66 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year.
Thus said Mariana March Against Cancer (MMAC) Co-Chair Carline Sablan quoting records of the Commonwealth Cancer Association (CCA) during the proclamation of the MMAC Week last May 6 at the Hopwood Middle School (HMS) campus in Saipan. She said Saipan had 97 recorded cancer cases in 2016 and this rose to 161 the following year.
“These numbers are too high for a small community like ours. Even one is too high,” Sablan said as she encouraged everyone to think about it.
“I encouraged everyone to take time to reflect on this, because it really is impacting our community,” she added.
Sablan’s MMAC Co-Chair Bobby Cruz, for his part, said research showed that in 2012, 14 million people died of cancer worldwide and in 2030 that number is going to rise at 21 million.
“One in every two individual will get cancer. That means your friend, or your family or someone you know. The reality is cancer affects all of us. So this fight is our fight,” Cruz told the HMS students.
In emphasizing the MMAC’s perpetual theme “one community, one journey”, Cruz said working together as one community will one day make the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) cancer-free.
On May 6, CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog signed a proclamation declaring May 6-12 as MMAC Week. Both officials urged the community to join the fight against cancer by participating in the MMAC.
The MMAC is the signature and fundraising event of the CCA to support its mission of saving lives and creating a world with less cancer though early detection and prevention, education, advocacy efforts, and life-affirming patient services for cancer. It celebrates cancer survivors and caregivers, remembers those lost to the disease, and empowers individuals and communities to fight back against cancer.
The CCA provides help to patient with items such as medical equipment, mastectomy bras, nutritional supplements, personal care items, patient navigation to and from treatment and support networks.
In 2017, 18 sponsor teams participated in the event.
But this year, Cruz said, the MMAC reached a record high of 20 sponsor teams, including Team Bodig, Triple J Saipan/Chacha Oceanview Middle School Lancherus, Ayuda Network, Inc./CNMI Government, Team Faiye’, Joeten Eagles, IT&E/Saipan Southern High School, Imperial Pacific International/Marianas High School, Lady Diann Torres Foundation/Northern Marianas College, CNMI Public School System/Saipan Paddling Club, Northern Marianas Islands Football Association, Pacific Islands Club, Talaabwogh StaR, Tan Holdings/Kagman High School, TRIBE Marianas, Marianas Health Services, CHADIC, and Resort & Spa/Hopwood Middle School, Mount Carmel Knights, MyPros/Bridge Capital, LLC.
The Mariana islands is only 1,340 miles or 2,158 kilometers from Bikini Atoll where the United States conducted extensive nuclear weapons testings between 1946 to 1958. The atoll remains uninhabitable due to high radiation levels.