Clarion, Pa.- As October comes to a close, Halloween decorations get packed away while Thanksgiving banners and Black Friday running shoes are brought out of the closet.
Towns that were once painted pink with Breast Cancer Awareness ribbons are no more, concluding what was once breast cancer awareness month.
For some, breast cancer awareness and support does not last just during the month of October, but spans a lifetime.
Patients and caregivers at Clarion Hospital’s Cancer Center realize that the battle between cancer and its host is not just a monthly battle, but a daily one, and members at the Cancer Center have made cancer awareness and support a daily and lifetime battle as well.
“One in eight women will get breast cancer during their lifetime,” said Tracy Myers, the nurse manager of the Cancer Center at Clarion Hospital.
“There are many breast cancer survivors all across this country. Some forms of breast cancer are very aggressive and it is incredibly hard watching women loose their life to such a terrible disease.”
Located at 150 Doctors Lane Suite One, the Cancer Center provides both chemotherapy and radiation therapy for patients requiring treatment for their cancer.
Myers added, “Most of our patients are being treated for breast, colon, lung cancer and lymphomas. Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in pancreatic cancer at our center, and we are monitoring this closely.”
Myers said the Cancer Center has seen a significant increase in the number of patients being treated at the center over the past year. “We do not attribute this to an increase in the incidence of cancer,” she said.
“We feel that it is more likely due to the aging of the population in our area, the high cost both financially and physically to travel long distances for treatments,” she said.
A significant part of cancer awareness is hearing survivor stories of hope, faith and strength including the journey the fighters took while battling cancer.
Myers said “There are people in this community that I call ‘walking miracles’ because based on science, they didn’t have very long to live.”
The earlier cancer is detected the higher of a chance that information can be gathered as to what stage a patient’s cancer is in. what treatment he or she may need, or what his or her chance of cure is.
“They [cancer survivors] are a constant reminder to me that science isn’t always in charge. There are hundreds of survivors in our community, and one of our favorite annual events is when we celebrate their survivorship and also remember those who lost their battle with cancer,” added Myers.
However inspiring one survivor’s story may be, there are numerous financial struggles that cancer patients face. The Cancer Center’s primary fundraising events benefit the Cancer Center Patient Care Fund.
“We have many generous people all across Clarion County that help support this fund. We are able to give patients gas cards, grocery store certificates, help with utility bills and sometimes do special things for patients that are terminally ill,” said Myers. Several years ago a young man was given the opportunity to attend the Super Bowl in Dallas, Texas, funded by local community residents.
Myers added, “Unfortunately, he passed away six months after the event, but people in this community were able to give him that experience. How amazing is that?”
As October ends, students and staff are urged to continue with breast cancer awareness and support.
Myers said she believed that the more students learn about cancer prevention and cancer screenings, the more doctors are able to catch the disease if it arises, or even eliminate chances of developing cancerous lesions or tumors.
“Knowledge is power. We need more students and engineers looking for the answers,” she said. “Ask the woman in your life that you love ‘when was your last mammogram?’”
“If you really want to get tough and save a life, get a fellow student to quit smoking. Smoking is deadly no matter how invincible you feel right now,” Myers concluded. “Many cancers are a result of the life choices we make, this is where knowledge becomes powerful.”
To learn more about the benefits, treatment, cause, or warning signs of cancer, visit the Cancer Center at Clarion Hospital Facebook page.