JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Cancer survivors around the country were celebrating the 23rd Annual National Cancer Survivors Day Sunday. At the Old Capitol Inn in Jackson Baptist Health Systems threw a very special event to honor their patients both past and present.
"When people are in treatment it is a very difficult thing for them and so we want to recognize and support them through that time and beyond," said Trudye Garraway, Navigator for Baptist's Cancer Center.
WLBT's own Cheryl Lasseter emceed the party. Every survivor wore buttons proclaiming how long they have survived the disease. Zetella Bender was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005.
"My cancer was aggressive, very aggressive. If I had not had the surgery, I would have been dead in four months," said Bender.
Sixteen chemo treatments and five years later she is cancer free. To her surprise she was named Baptist's "cancer survivor of the year."
"It wasn't easy, but thank God my spirituality and support of my family got me through it," said Bender.
Another special woman was also honored. Juanita Blackburn quit her job and started working part time to care for her 93 year old father battling cancer. For her selflessness she was named "caregiver of the year."
"My dad raised us up to always see after one another. I love people and God put it on my heart to do it," said Blackburn.
There will be an estimated 14,330 Mississippians diagnosed with cancer this year. Bender offers this advice that got her though the long, hard journey.
"Beat the cancer, don't let it beat you. You have to stay positive. You can't give up," said Bender.
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