COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - More than 900 people came together at the Rivermill Event Centre on Sunday afternoon. Half of those in attendance were cancer survivors with powerful testimonies to share with other survivors and fighters.
The John B. Amos Cancer Center hosted its 27th annual celebration for cancer survivors in the Chattahoochee Valley in honor of National Cancer Survivor's day which is held on the first Sunday in June.
Judy Myers, 68, was diagnosed with grade 1 stage 2 breast cancer in May 2010. Myers has been cancer free for three years now, and she has been attending the annual celebration since then.
"I found out about my breast cancer four years ago when I went to my regular routine mammogram," Myers said. "It was very aggressive and fast growing. Doctors told me I would need to go through 52 weeks of treatment. I did that and also had 33 radiation treatments. They said I'd have 83 percent chance of living my lifetime, if I completed these treatments. So I said, let's get started."
Myers said the fight was tough, but she survived. She says she now has a new purpose.
"It was tough," Myers said. "I felt weak all the time. I had no appetite. I had to force myself to eat. My husband and I told ourselves, God is in control. We held onto faith in God. And now, when other cancer patients and survivors look at me, they have hope…just like when I get hope from meeting other people who have survived cancer for more than 20 years. Now, I got my hair back, finger nails back and my toe nails back. When fighters and survivors see the progress, it gives them encouragement."
The ceremony offered free meals for about 500 cancer survivors and their guests that attended the event. Eva Grayzel, an oral cancer survivor flew to Columbus from New York to speak at today's event.
"I have been speaking at events for ten years now," Grayzel said. "I'm a 16 year survivor of stage 4 tongue cancer. I feel very lucky to be articulate, and I feel like it's my obligation to share my story, raise awareness and help save lives. You have to share your stories and challenges. It gives people hope. It helps them go on."
Beating cancer was hard work, and Myers says she attends her annual and monthly health check-ups to make sure she stays cancer free for the rest of her life.
"Don't let cancer scare you," Myers said. "God is in control. Cancer is not the big scary thing that it used to be, because you have hope. You have hope."