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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Island police force helps raise cancer awareness

Christian singer Samuel Hernández parted with his hair for the cause. (Photo by Richard Gutiérrez/The San Juan Daily Star)

By The Star Staff

Cancer patients endure a great deal. Acute sickness, astronomically high medical bills and treatments such as chemotherapy that cause one’s hair to fall out, which in turn can often erode self-esteem.

Not only does the ordeal of cancer have an effect on the patient themselves, but also on the people who surround them -- family members, spouses and friends have to witness their loved one slowly deteriorate over time.

Every October the World Health Organization spotlights the fight against the disease in a push to raise awareness and promote broader access to timely and effective diagnoses and treatments. Members of the Caguas Command and the Criminal Investigation Corps of the Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB) joined the American Cancer Society this week to provide guidance to the PRPB personnel. The event took place at the Caguas Police Department on Tuesday, where many members of the force and even students from Haydee Caballero Middle School were present at the event.

Along with the invited guests, many artisans were at the event, and even Christian singer Samuel Hernández was on hand to get a haircut and donate the clippings for cancer patients. Anyone at the event who wanted to do the same could do so.

“The artisans who come here come here voluntarily to bring in a different space to people who have this deadly disease,” Sgt. Víctor Morales told the STAR. “Sure, they do sell their products, but they also provide some things for cancer patients. Many of the people who work here in the Caguas Police Headquarters suffer from cancer, and there are women who work here as well that suffer from breast cancer as well.”

“In a sense it’s a way to bring some alleviation from the current situation that they are facing,” Morales added.

The event is in its third year and has yet to see the level of media coverage it deserves, coordinator Hilda González noted. Every year they sell t-shirts at the police headquarters, and the proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society. The event is staged in coordination with World Day Against Breast Cancer, which is observed Oct. 19 by the World Health Organization.

“The highest number of people who have cancer are in the island’s state police force -- that is why we do this event here in Caguas every year, to support the large number of individuals in the force who suffer from cancer, as well as other people who suffer from the sickness,” Morales said.

It is important to note that the event is open to the public and all cancer patients and their family members.

“As police officers, more than just fighting bad guys, our job is also to take care of the community,” Morales noted. “Part of our job is to educate the people not just in police-related subjects, but also in subjects that concern the community, such as health.”

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