The corners of Walnut Avenue and 14th Street in Eastside Long Beach were decked out in purple on Saturday, Nov. 14, as Cancer Fighters took to the street for a second consecutive month to raise awareness, this time for pancreatic cancer.
About a dozen of its members and supporters lined the corners of the street, asking cars to honk and as they reached the end of the residential streets, in turn receiving a purple goodie bag.
According to the American Cancer Society, it estimates that about 57,600 people in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2020.
The ACS states that there is genetic testing that “looks for gene changes that cause inherited conditions and increase pancreatic cancer risk.”
Those who know they’re at an increased risk can work with their doctors to decide if they should test to look for pancreatic cancer early, at a time it can be treated if found. However, finding out who is at high risk is not simple.
“The American Cancer Society strongly recommends that anyone thinking about genetic testing talk with a genetic counselor, nurse, or doctor (qualified to interpret and explain the test results) before getting tested,” their website reads.
At the forefront of Cancer Fighters is the cousin duo, Nellie De La Cruz and Capone Magallanes, whose grandmother died of pancreatic cancer in 2009. Their aunt, represented in a neon green sign at the event, currently has cancer. She briefly tuned in to the event via FaceTime call with De La Cruz’s mother.
“They’re honking for you,” Nellie Lopez, De La Cruz’s mom, said over Facetime as De La Cruz and Magallanes showed her the goodie bags they were passing out to participating supporters.
“We’re raising awareness for pancreatic cancer because my grandma died from pancreatic cancer and my tia (aunt) is fighting cancer,” De La Cruz said to the Signal Tribune, the afternoon of the event.
“We just want to put out there that other people care and that they’re not fighting alone,” De La Cruz said of the significance of the event. “People are here to fight with them.”
“It means a lot for both of us because we just want to let others know that just because they have [cancer] doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to fight with them,” Magallanes chimed in. “So they don’t have to feel alone.”
This core message has been what has fueled De La Cruz’ and Magallanes’ mission all along. Cancer Fighters delivered 90 bracelets for children with cancer at Miller’s Children Hospital last year and returned to donate over 100 gifts to children last Christmas and 94 Easter baskets in March.
Lopez and Ritchie De La Cruz, Velina Velasquez and Edgar Magallanes, Nellie and Capones’ parents, respectively, have stood firmly behind the two at every event in support, and Saturday was no exception as they cheered, handed out goodie bags and carried signs.
“I love coming out here,” Velasquez said to the Signal Tribune. “Especially with everything going on right now and getting all these honks for cancer awareness, it’s not just one cancer, it’s all these cancers, and it feels really good to be out here and doing this for everybody.”
To support Cancer Fighters at future events, follow them on Instagram @cancerfighter71909