American Cancer Society Celebrating National Cancer Survivor Month
June is National Cancer Survivor Month during which hundreds of communities nationwide connect with one another to celebrate survivors, raise awareness and advocate for research funding. Thanks to advances in cancer research, more than 16.9 million people in the United States are cancer survivors. The American Cancer Society states, “Survivors are at the heart of everything we do.”
Jerry Citarella is one such survivor. He was diagnosed with stage 1 colorectal cancer just months ago and is making a strong and healthy recovery after surgery. He says, “The screening did what it was supposed to do – we caught it early and I now have a positive outcome.” He wants to share his story in hopes that others will be motivated to get screenings too.
Jerry began participating in Relay For Life in 1999, first as a corporate sponsor, then as a committee chair and later as a local ACS board member. Little did he know at the time that his fundraising efforts would be supporting him one day when he was diagnosed. Jerry says, “The dollars we raised to develop new technologies and explore methods of cancer diagnosis and prevention helped me to be alive today.”
Agnes Russell is also cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 21 years ago when her tumor was detected during a routine mammogram. “At first I was a wreck,” Agnes says. ”It felt like a death sentence. But then I prayed, and I knew that if I survived, I would help others who were going through this.”
As she was undergoing chemo and radiation, Agnes joined the Bosom Buddies breast cancer support group. She felt reassured by the care and encouragement she received. She says that support is so important at this time when patients feel scared and overwhelmed. Agnes went on to facilitate the support group, which she continues to lead, and organized a Bosom Buddies Relay For Life team. She is still actively volunteering with ACS and does the accounting for Relay.
Both Jerry and Agnes credit cancer screenings for being alive today. Agnes says, “You never really feel the same after a diagnosis, but I feel lucky.” Jerry also feels grateful, but he says that planning and awareness also play a role in cancer prevention. He encourages everyone to make that screening appointment.
To watch an interview with Jerry and Agnes, go to www.SCVRelay.org and scroll through event announcements.
For information and questions about cancer, contact your American Cancer Society toll-free at 800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org
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