Washington University of health and science students were given an incredible opportunity to be a part of a great cause this semester. The first annual Belize Fitness Cancer Run was held on July 1, which just happens to be on the 150th birthday of Canada (Happy Canada today to all of the Canadians out there!).
We were invited to run a 5 kilometer run and raise funds to battle cancer. This is a disease is a major public health problem that continues to affect millions worldwide. A new article published by Siegal et al. estimates that there are more than 4600 new cancer diagnosis each day. New cases are predominated by prostate (19% of all new cases in men) and breast (30% of all new cases in women), but the lung continues to be the number one cause of cancer related death in both sexes, 27% of all cancer related deaths in men and 25% of all cancer related deaths in women.
Washington students wanted to do more than just make a contribution and run the race.
We rallied together to come up with trivia questions to bring awareness to the people in San Pedro. Many diseases have an environmental component to them, that can either be prevented or reduced by making lifestyle modifications like engaging in more exercise or partaking in a healthier diet. We came up with a jeopardy styled board with categories such as hypertension, waist circumference, alcohol intake, smoking, exercise, nutrition, and BMIs. We wanted to explore the level of awareness some of the people from San Pedro have about certain lifestyles and their associations with certain diseases. We wanted to engage with the community that we are a part of during our basic sciences to reach out and at least help one person.
On top of that, we wanted to get involved with some kind of health screening for the community during the event as well. However, I thought that many of the numbers would be skewed, as people would be getting up earlier than they usually would and exerting themselves harder. Blood pressure would most likely be raised with all of these factors. So, we decided to measure BMIs and waist circumferences. This way, even if the number was a little off, we could steer some individuals in the right direction and classify them within a range of underweight, normal, overweight and then the stages of obese. We measured the height of those individuals who were interested and took their weight. We calculated BMI and then measured their waist circumference. We informed them about how they compared to to the “normal ranges” based on their age and sex.
I was ecstatic about the amount of people who wanted to participate, and how much they appreciated the information that we were distributing. There were many young adults who have not weighed themselves in years and had no idea what status their health was in, and what conditions they may be predisposed to. Many people think that involving an exercise routine into their busy lives is impossible and they do not have time, but it does not take a lot to make a difference in your health. Half an hour a day, 5 days a week is recommended, but getting out there and talking a walk is already a step in the right direction.
I was very happy to see the physicians of tomorrow so willing to to come in so early on a Saturday morning after a tough week of school and be so excited to help the community in any way they can. Washington students look forward to the next event that we can be a part of. A huge thank you to everyone who participated!