Trinidadian-born Allison Alexis, founder of the Queens Cancer Walk, herself, a cancer survivor, and champion for others, honored women in her community, and the many others lost to the disease, and to COVID-19, during a heartfelt candlelight vigil at the Inspire NY Church Hall & Wellness Center, on Sutphin Blvd., in South Jamaica, Queens.
Alexis, who also founded the Angels of Hope Cancer Awareness Group, on Oct. 15, told survivors, supporters and elected officials, that due to the coronavirus pandemic, she was unable to host, what would have been her 8th Annual Cancer walk in the borough, but instead, was honored to commemorate those who have passed on, at the first candlelight vigil, after moving to the area four years ago.
A courageous and compassionate advocate, Alexis, who is a ten-year cancer survivor, started the Queens Cancer Walk in 2014, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, and felt she must do more than bring about awareness in her community, through the march. As such, she has become a fierce advocate for scores of cancer survivors, and continues to provide counseling, and social events, to help others cope.
Born in Port-of-Spain, Alexis, who has received numerous citations for her work, and who was showered with praise, for her unwavering support, inspiration and upliftment of woman in her community, before opening the program affixed everyone with a pink ribbon pin, significant, to breast cancer awareness, acknowledged in the month of October.
Survivors and supporters then joined Alexis to light candles during the vigil that included musical renditions dedicated to those lost.
Assembly Member Khaleel Anderson praised Alexis for uplifting and bringing the community together. “Breast cancer awareness is not only celebrated in this month, but all year long. It is important that we celebrate our victories and maintain a positive attitude, around something that is so painful. This is what keeps us fighting said the politician.
“Thanks for taking the time to come and uplift and support Allison, and to also uplift the other hundreds of thousands of women. I hope you leave renewed and invigorated, emotionally, mentally, and being by their side. I want to say thanks to the organization, and Allison. Continue to fight,” said Anderson.
Cathleen Williams, director of community engagement community partnership division, said she was honored to be representing Queens District Attorney, Melinda Katz, noting that “It’s important that we all join together in love, harmony and understanding and in compassion to support, lift up, encourage, and pray for one another as we go through struggles like this.”
“DA Katz wants you to know that under her leadership and office, we care for breast cancer survivors. It is not only being the chief law enforcement officer looking over one of the most diverse boroughs in the world. She is also connected and participates in the community. It is not something that can be overlooked. We participate when it is Women’s History, Hispanic History, African American Mmonth, and acknowledge that those things are important to her and Queens. She sends her Llove and regards from the DA’s office,” said Williams.
Judge Karen Gopee, the first person from Trinidad to serve in the judiciary, and who is on the Nov. 2, ballot to be elevated in the Supreme Court, expressed to Alexis, that she too has had to deal with friends and family members with breast cancer, and congratulates the survivors for their bravery, and inspiration to others.
“Allison shares so much inspiration and is doing something so incredible to change the lives of so many people, and being supportive in their hardest times,” said Judge Gopee.
The vigil was punctuated by the melodious melody “Superwoman” performed by Nathalie “Challa” Edwards, who received a Certificate of Recognition from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office and presented by Senior Community Liaison at Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, Rohan Narine.
Opera singer Charlena Pearson’s, deeply moving musical renditions celebrated survivors, while Karen M. Elbers’ sincere poetry “Rise Up,” was a touching tribute to those lost.
The valiant group of women, some who had double mastectomy, some who have survived the dreaded disease and are in remission for five years, three years, two years, stood bravely to share their testimonies, and thanked their families and friends for their unwavering support, and to Alexis who said she will continue to stand by the survivors, as they all fight to stay healthy, and beat cancer.
Speakers included, Christina Blackburn, a domestic survivor, of Speranza Human Compassion Project & IHC, and Karen Espinoza, president of Help the World Foundation,
Some of the survivors included, Ramola Ramphul, Wendy Foster, Mary Cassaberry and Vicky Lal.
Sister Beverly of Inspire NY Church, blessed the proceedings.