Community Health

Unite in the Fight Against Cancer raises funds and awareness for all types of cancer

(Featured photo is from the 2022 Unite in the Fight Against Cancer walk. Photo courtesy Georgia Cancer Center)

Breast prostheses and wigs for uninsured women, art projects for children with cancer and mental health resources for patients undergoing cancer treatment are a few of the reasons for an upcoming walk.

The Unite in the Fight Against Cancer walk on May 13 on the grounds of Augusta University Medical Center has raised money for projects like these since it started in 2018.

“This is about programs that directly benefit patients. This is a local event not the branch of a big event. We don’t need to pay any dues to anybody. We organize it here with our own resources. Everything we fundraise comes back,” said Dr. Jorge Cortes, director of the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University.

The goal for this year’s walk is $75,000. Last year, it raised just under $50,000. It’s been held in different formats since its inception. COVID forced a virtual walk for a couple of years. Last year brought out a crowd for the new spring date. Previously it had been held in the fall.

The reasons for the walk are two-fold. Raising money is an important one.

A scene from the 2022 Unite In the Fight against Cancer. Photo courtesy Georgia Cancer Center.

“Most insurances won’t pay for (wigs). Women can be very self-conscious because a lot of our identity is with our hair. These funds mean a lot. They do a lot for our patients,” said Barbara McFarland, administrator for the Georgia Cancer Center’s Outpatient Services clinic.

She also mentioned the ceiling tile program. Pediatric cancer patients have decorated ceiling tiles in the center. They’ve painted superheroes, the favorite cartoon character or come up with their own design. Prior to receiving funds from a walk, cancer center employees paid for the items out of their own pockets.

“I’ve seen these funds in action working with these patients,” McFarland said. “The pediatric ceiling tiles are hugely impactful and very uplifting.”

Another goal of the walk is to recognize people with other types of cancer and bring awareness to them. Each cancer has its own ribbon color. While most people are familiar with pink for breast cancer, they may not know that ovarian cancer is teal, liver cancer is emerald green or that pancreatic cancer is purple.

“To the patients, it means so much. The patients know – they come with the ribbons and their shirts (in their color),” said Cortes.

And this inclusive event says to the patients that awareness of their type of cancer is just as important as the more well-known ones.

The event is open to anyone with cancer or families and friends of those who’ve had cancer. It’s not just for Georgia Cancer Center patients, he emphasized.

The event will begin with registration at 8 a.m. and an opening ceremony around 8:40. The 1.5-mile walk will start at 9 a.m. with the route winding through the hospital, cancer center and medical school.

 Once people are finished with the walk, there will be a variety of events on site including a therapy dog, raffle, children’s area, a DJ and a special VIP area for cancer patients to receive some pampering. Boxer Justin Deloach will make an appearance.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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