After overcoming breast cancer, Neuza encourages her daughter who is undergoing treatment against Hodgkin's lymphoma [Photo Credit: Filipe Adrian]

General Conference

Brazilian woman beats breast cancer, then races with daughter

Race for Pink October mobilized more than 370 women in the north-central of Espírito Santo

Brazil | Leonardo Saimon

W hen she found out she had breast cancer, just over a year ago, Neuza Bená felt that this was the end. Crying was her immediate reaction and for a moment the world seemed to have collapsed on her shoulders. She had joined the statistics of the National Cancer Institute (Inca), which predicted in 2019 that 60 thousand women would contract this type of cancer.

“When I touched it, I noticed a lump,” Bená recalls. “I immediately went to the Basic Health Unit in the neighborhood, but I wasn't even attended to.”

She did not give up. She contacted a nursing technician who met in the same church and shared her situation. The professional got her an appointment the next day and Bená was soon scheduled for a mammogram. Upon receiving the exam, it was confirmed that she had breast cancer and would need to have surgery. The doctor also warned of the long treatment to come.

For a year, Bená was away from work and, in addition to the surgery, she underwent 18 sessions of radiotherapy. Her case would not require chemo and, currently, the doctor guarantees that Neuza has no cancer. However, she needs to continue monitoring every three months for five years.

In the meantime, Bená, who maintains a healthy diet and used to walk and run, became concerned about not being able to perform everyday physical activities anymore. 

“Right at the beginning, I asked my doctor if I could walk, even because of the surgery I had done. She guaranteed that I could do it and that the surgery would not get in the way of anything,” she says.

SuperAction Race

Bená not only continued her journey but also took advantage of a local race to challenge herself. She signed up for the SuperAção Challenge, promoted by the Adventist Church for the southeastern region of Brazil because she understood that her life could serve as an example for other women. 

“When you have the disease, that's not where the world ends,” she emphasizes. “You have to have strength and encourage other women to do the self-exams, go to the doctor, and participate in the race.”

Bená joined the group of women who left Posto 1, on Camburi beach, in Vitória. Like her, more than 370 women in north-central Espírito Santo participated in the event. They ran distances of 3, 6, 10, and 15 kilometers. Bená’s group chose to travel along the beach, a place known in the capital of Espírito Santo for the practice of physical activities, and conducted warmups directed by a physical education professional.

Bená decided not to face the challenge alone; her daughter was beside her in the competition. Elayne Bená has been under treatment since she was diagnosed earlier this year with Hodgkin's lymphoma - a type of cancer that originates in the lymphatic system and acts on the body's immune system. Elayne looks at her mother as an example of overcoming and both go through the challenges they need to face together. In health and running.

“All the strength she had when she went through her treatment, it was also the same for me,” explains Elayne. “So she gave me strength and helps me a lot. Because of that, I have had my walks, healthy eating, being careful.” 

More than 1,700 women from various parts of Brazil and other countries participated in the Pink October campaign to combat breast cancer. In the north-central region of Espírito Santo, several groups have organized to participate in the campaign.

“The church understands that by the Word of God, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and therefore the body must be in good condition,” says Luís Mário de Souza, president of the Adventist Church for the central-northern region of Espírito Santo. “This is only possible when we take care of our health. Events like this provide and encourage people to exercise.”

In addition, the group also distributed missionary books to demonstrate the concern of Espírito Santo Adventists for the physical and emotional health of their community. The speech given by the leader of Women’s Ministry for the region, Jeanete Souza, speaks directly to the reflection proposed above. She spoke of the unity of the body when explaining that the pandemic led the church to reinvent itself to continue motivating its members to take care of health in all aspects listed.

“This was the first time they had done a virtual race; it was something totally foreign to them. But the women embraced it thoroughly, and the result was more than 370 women running, walking, taking care of the body, the mind and the spirit,” she says.

Solidarity

The Overcoming Challenge will help projects that support women with cancer in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and Espírito Santo. When registering, participants could contribute to the cause, and non-perishable foods were donated. It was also possible to contribute specific materials for women with cancer such as hats, scarves, hair for wigs, and articles of personal needs. In Espírito Santo, donations will be made to the Women's Association for Education and Fight Against Cancer (AFECC).

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Portuguese news site

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