Marie Seide of Boynton Beach, a native of Haiti, lost her mother to breast cancer, but she battled the disease herself and won.
The key difference between them?
“In my mother’s case, she didn’t seek treatment in time and it was too late, “said Seide, 53. “With me, I was diagnosed in 2006 with Stage One. It was in time and I am a survivor.”
Seide then founded the Marie Louise Cancer Foundation, named after her mother, and set a goal.
“We want to stop these deaths from happening in the Haitian community,” she said Sunday, surrounded by supporters at John Prince Park in suburban Lake Worth. Those backers, many of them members of church congregations in the Palm Beach County Haitian community, met there to eat, listen to music, donate money and raise awareness of the disease.
The event was staged in conjunction with the anti-cancer organization Susan G. Komen South Florida, which convened similar Mother’s Day gatherings of churchgoers — labeled “Worship in Pink” — throughout the region Sunday. The Komen group estimates that the nation will see more than 230,000 new cases of breast cancer in 2014 and 40,000 deaths. But the disease can be beaten with early diagnosis and 2.5 million women in the U.S. today are survivors.
Various Haitian pastors were in attendance following Sunday morning services.
“We pastors, we need to spread the word in our churches,” said Ralph Pierre Louis, pastor of America Church of Christ in Boynton Beach.
The word they are spreading is that women should go for regular medical checkups, including yearly mammograms. But Judi Cineas, 36, a supporter of the group says too many women still wait too long.
“Many don’t speak English, they don’t have insurance, they don’t have economic resources and they end up with Stage 4 diagnoses,” she said.”They don’t survive.”
Seide encouraged Haitian women to call her foundation, where they will find help in the Creole language and, if they don’t have the economic means to pay for medical care, they will get help with that, too.
Rosemanie Andre, 44, of Lake Worth, is one the women the foundation has helped. Andre speaks no English and has no insurance, but she contacted the foundation in time and will have surgery in the next few weeks. Andre, who is mother to two sons ages 3 and 13, said she was grateful to the foundation for saving her life.
Richelle Daceus, 36, of Delray Beach, who has a 4-year-old boy, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
“I don’t know what I would have done without Marie,” she said of Seide. “She got me the surgery I needed, the medications. I just had my last chemo last month.”
Cineas emphasized that breast cancer is not just a woman’s issue. She said once a woman enters treatment she will need support from all the people around her. Among the supporters at the park Sunday were many men from the Haitian community. One of them was Joubert Jean Louis, 40, of Lake Worth.
“Today is Mother’s Day,” he said. “We are here for all the mothers.”
WANT TO HELP?
Information about testing and treatment for cancer is available in English and Creole at the Mary Louise Cancer Foundation. Call 561-752-2122.
Donations can sent to: Marie Louise Cancer Foundation, 112 SE 23rd Ave., Boynton Beach, FL 33435