December 3, 1953 - October 30, 1998
Prepared by: Laura Tucker-Longsworth MSN. RN.
Juliet received her primary school education at St. Ignatius School. With a limited education and determination to improve the quality of her life for herself and her family, she entered the world of business. She gained employment as a clerk at James Brodie & Company Ltd. where she worked for three years. In her quest to become financially secure and independent she pursued many entrepreneurial activities that included employment as a Life Underwriter with Mutual Life, was involved in many small business activities, and was manager of Shell Service Station. In 1985, Juliet decided it was time to have her own business and together with her husband established A & J’s Imports and Exports and Janitorial Services.
When Juliet was only fourteen years old, as Juliet amusingly described it, fooled the public with her age because of her maturity and determination, entered and won the Queen of the Bay contest.
At the tender age of sixteen, Juliet met and formed a lasting relationship with her husband Anthony Joseph Soberanis. That union produced three beautiful children: Kimberley, Polycarpio and Estella Soberanis.
Juliet had a passion for life and demonstrated her love of humanity and children by becoming actively involved in activities that she felt would improve the quality of their lives. She was a founding member of the National Organization for Prevention of Child Abuse, served as Vice President of the International Women’s Club, and entertained the children of Belize for ten years as Mrs. Santa Claus. She was refreshing, innovative, and certainly an environmentalist. Her creation, Mr. Neat & Klean was presented to the public in 1991. Through this character she successfully motivated children and adults of Belize to make Belize beautiful and maintain a healthy environment by bagging all garbage. She launched a “no litter” campaign and designed costumes made from garbage bags. Her slogan for this campaign: “Clean it up, Bag it up, so City Council can pick it up.”
Juliet was also a politician. Through her political activism she unsuccessfully contested the general elections in 1993 as the Queen Square Area People’ United Party representative. She worked diligently in the PUP Women’s Group and served as Vice President from 1993-1994. She was elected to the City Council and served as Councillor from 1993-1996.
Juliet work was acknowledged by several organizations in Belize. She received Outstanding Citizen’s Awards from the Belize City Council in 1995, The University College of Belize in 1997 and the PUP Women’s Group and the Belize Cancer society in 1998. She was nominated by PAHO Belize for an international award for her outstanding contribution in an important area of healthcare, namely the Belize Cancer Society.
Juliet’s most important accomplishment (besides her family) was the inauguration of the Belize Cancer Society. When she discovered the lump in her breast, she sought consultation and a biopsy was conducted. The report was lost and the biopsy had to be repeated. Interestingly, it was not until almost six months later that she received the biopsy report. She received the diagnosis of breast cancer on June 23, 1995. She and her family experienced extreme turmoil. They experienced great difficulty in making decisions about treatment and management of her breast cancer.
Information on treatment was limited, partly because of lack of an oncologist in the health system and partly because the available health personnel lacked experience in managing cancer. Psychological support from health authorities was lacking and more importantly she and her family realized that if she and her family could not identify funds for treatment abroad, she would literally wait for death. With support, Juliet sought treatment abroad. She discovered her cancer was terminal and therefore declined aggressive management with chemotherapy and radiation. She preferred to spend quality time with her family and friends.
Based on her experiences and education from oncologists and nutritionists in the United States, Juliet embarked on a mission to establish an organization that would sensitize the community about the health problem of cancer. Today, the Belize Cancer Society is established and work is ongoing to promote the awareness of all types of cancer, their treatment and to support all those affected by cancer and their families. It seems most fitting that her death occurred at the end of cancer Awareness Month which she first initiated in October, 1996. Juliet organized her life and those around until her death. She planned her funeral, gave personal items to family and friends and then went on with the process of living.
I learnt some invaluable lessons from Juliet. She was very spiritual, prayed constantly for guidance and strength and expressed love for those around her on a daily basis. She taught me about life, dying, acceptance, anger, frustration and anticipatory loss as she battled the effects of cancer. I became empowered to support patients during the death and dying process with a more realistic honest and enthusiastic approach. I witnessed the total involvement of the family and learnt from their struggles, as they adjusted their lives to meet the needs of Juliet during her three year battle with breast and bone cancer.
Today, dedicated members of the Belize Cancer Society continue Juliet’s work, of educating the Belizean Community on strategies that can be used to prevent and control cancer. We continue to use her fundraising slogan: “We need you today, but you may need us tomorrow!”
Belize Cancer Society