By Dennis J. Freeman
COMPTON — The rain that fell Oct. 13 was not strong enough to stop hundreds of people from showing up to participate in the seventh annual Compton Walk For A Cure at Centennial High School.
With the dreariness of a lingering rainstorm hanging on, the yearly event, which brings attention to breast cancer, early detection and support for survivors, was off on the amount of people it usually turns out.
Nevertheless, a great number of people, with the assistance of the Centennial High School Marching Band, Compton City Councilwoman Janna Zurita, her sister, school board member Satra Zurita, Compton school board President Micah Ali and Compton school Superintendent Darin Brawley braved the elements to lend their feet to a charitable cause.
For Tanya Walters, the founder of GodParents Youth Organization, coming to the event was a no-brainer for her. She lost a sister nine years ago to breast cancer. Several people she called friends also had their lives taken by the disease. So the march around the track and forming a bond with others who rally in support of finding a cure for breast cancer is indeed a personal mission for Walters.
“Cancer is a personal thing for me because I lost my sister in 2007, and I lost several good friends at my job to cancer,” Walters said. “By coming out and supporting in the rain, it shows the value and the sacrifice. The fact that it is raining gives us more motivation to let people know that we’re going to do a cold shoulder to cancer.
“We’re not having it. So whatever we need to do to spread the message and to support those that are going through it and to be there for them, help them find different support groups, that’s what we have to do. So by coming out here I am taking a cold shoulder to cancer.”
Marvin Stovall lost his mother to cancer. A native of Compton, Stovall said he started participating in cancer walks in 2007.
His first adventure out on his cancer awareness walk campaigns took him on quite a hike, one that lasted for an extended number of miles.
“I started doing breast cancer walks about 11 years ago,” Stovall said. “The first time I did the 39-mile walk in September. My mom was diagnosed in November at the age of 75. I have been doing breast cancer walks ever since and by me growing up in Compton and knowing a lot of people being affected by this disease, I decided to come out and support them.”
According to the American Cancer Society, there are an estimated 238,670 new cases of breast cancer each year. Breast cancer is the most common cancer that inflicts black women, according to the Cancer Society. Stovall said a lack of health insurance prevents many black women from having their cancer detected early.
“In my opinion, the reason why it hits the minority community the hardest is because they don’t have the money to get diagnosed in the early stages,” Stovall said. Some of them don’t have insurance, so by the time that they do find out that they have this illness, it’s already advanced. The reason we come out to these events it brings out medical people that can give them information concerning the illness, preventiveness, and to teach them how to do self-examination.”
For DeDe, Terri and Patrice Adams, the journey to bring awareness about breast cancer starts with their niece, Michell Piper, who wasn’t yet 40 (37 years) when she died of the illness this summer. It’s been a heart-breaking pathway for the three sisters, who lost their niece’s mother only several months before losing her.
“She was a fighter,” Terri Adams said. “She never gave up. She fought breast cancer a little over three years. She was a fighter to the end. I’m her queen … that’s my baby princess. That’s like my other daughter.”
Patrice Adams said breast cancer awareness should not be limited to just those afflicted with the illness, their families and loved ones, but an issue everyone should get involved with.
“I think that it is very important for all of us to get involved in breast cancer awareness,” she said. “The disease itself is serious. It is not only related to a specific type of person regarding age or gender. It affects us all. We’re not exempt from it.”
This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Wave.