By Nomali Cele
Crusaders against breast cancer will once again gather in Johannesburg on 23 October for the Avon Justine iThemba Walkathon. Now in its eleventh year, the event has people in pink and white taking to the streets as they show solidarity and help raise awareness for breast cancer. Beyond ‘pouting for a purpose’ Avon Justine is considered one the biggest supporters of breast health causes around the world.
As extensive as their global breast cancer awareness efforts are (the American crusade is in its 14th year) their work also involves grassroots NGOs in South Africa. They work with the Breast Health Foundation, sponsoring mobile education units and donating funds to research, and they also collaborate with Bosom Buddies, a breast cancer support group.
For Mbali, the walk is bittersweet; it’s a celebration of life while raising awareness.
“This is a cause dear to my heart. I chose to support it because there is a history of cancer in my family, on my maternal gran’s side. Unfortunately, we have lost three family members, so this is a way for us to remember them and what they meant to us, while also helping to help raise awareness. It will be my third consecutive year. I first walked with my sister-in-law as it was their church initiative and I fell in love with it. This year I will be walking with my family and there will be 13 of us.”
For Nozipho, mother of two, the Avon Justine iThemba Walkathon has become something of a family tradition. Each year she and her children join the tens of thousands walking for a purpose, raising awareness of breast cancer.
“At first it was just for fun and family time for me and the kids. I think it was on my third walk when I saw a 14-year-old breast cancer survivor. She was very strong and that motivated me to support the cause more. I really didn’t know that children could get breast cancer. This will be my sixth time walking; the first one was in 2009.”
Laura finds community at each walk.
“I have always supported the walkathon as it has such an amazing vibe and it’s for a cause that is very important to me. Every one of the walks I’ve done, this year will make it seven, has always been supported by women, men, children and the most importantly… survivors!
We need more awareness in our country and this walk is a great way to achieve this. I notice that every year the crowds get bigger and bigger, which fills my heart with such happiness. Our country needs to help educate not only the women but men too about this disease. We have too many people still out there who are too scared to be checked. A feel a day keeps the doctor away.”
Marks Park in Emmarentia, Johannesburg, is the place to be!
Are you walking this year?