National Cancer Survivor Day: A time to celebrate life

By Mackenzie Patterson - bioemail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Millions of people in the US are diagnosed with cancer each year.  Hazel Ortiz was one of them.  She found out in 2010 she had breast cancer.

"Just thinking that I might not be here to be with my family because that's what the cancer is all about.  It shortens your life," said Ortiz.

After rounds of chemo and radiation, she is cancer free and celebrating with about 400 other cancer survivors.

It is all part of a celebration put on by the John B. Amos Cancer Center for National Cancer Survivor Day, and it hits close to home for most, even the day's speaker.  LaDonna Gatlin's husband, Tim, is a two time cancer survivor diagnosed once in the 1980s and again just two years ago.

"It was very, very scary.  I thought, 'Am I going to raise these children by myself?'  And, thank God that didn't happen, but it was kind of a death sentence back then," said Gatlin.

Gatlin said because of good doctors and advances in medicine, her husband is a survivor, and she applauds every person facing cancer today.

"You're brave, amazing people to face life the way you do every single day."

Ortiz said she is so happy to be alive, and now wants to use her story to help others.

"I want to be encouraging to others.  Even though I went through the treatments and they're so tough on your body, but look at me now," said Ortiz.

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