04 shakirThe American Cancer Society challenges us to imagine a world free from cancer. In 2019, there will be an estimated 1,762,450 new cancer cases diagnosed and 606,880 cancer deaths in the United States. More than 20,000 of those deaths will be in North Carolina. The Mayo Clinic defines cancer as any one of a large number of diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue. Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the world. But survival rates are improving for many types of cancer, thanks to improvements in cancer screening and cancer treatment.

Locally, the Shakir Family and Friends have had several members impacted by breast cancer, and as a result, they wanted to give back to an organization supporting people in that situation. “They were led to Cape Fear Valley Health System’s Friends of the Cancer Center because of the impact we have with local cancer patients in this community,” said Sabrina Brooks, executive director of Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation. “The Shakir Family and Friends felt our work lined up with the impact they hoped to make through their events.”

These are people who want to raise money to help cancer patients.

“We brainstormed about what to do and how to get other people involved,” the Shakir Family and Friends said. “That way, we could donate more money to the foundation.”

The month of October is breast cancer awareness month and a time of year that the Shakir Family and Friends hold an annual fund-raising dinner. They hold a fish fry and raffle each spring. The Shakirs have donated more than $20,000 over the past five years, according to Brooks.

Marge Betley, with Cape Fear Valley Health, conducted interviews with the six men and women who identify as the Shakir Family and Friends. “We chose Friends of the Cancer Center because we wanted the money to directly help a family or individual in need during their battle with cancer,” they said.

“After all the hard work is done, handing Cape Fear Valley Friends of the Cancer Center the check of the money we raised … is our most favorite part of the work that we do,” family members said. Shakir family members and friends involved in the project include Charles Smith, Jeanetta Smith, Trena Shakir, Shaheed Shakir, Esther Ligon and Bernard Ligon. The Shakir Family and Friends have learned firsthand that “those that you are helping really need the help and appreciate everything that you do.”

The Shakir Family and Friends (left to right) Charles Smith, Jenetta  Smith, Trenna Shakir, Shaheed Shakir, Esther Ligon and Bernard Ligon have had several members impacted by breast cancer, and as a result, they wanted to give back to an organization supporting people in that situation.

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