By Yessenia Anderson
CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — The month of June is National Cancer Awareness Month. To kick it off many across the nation gathered to honor those battling the deadly disease.
According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2009 there were more than 12 million men and women alive who had a history of cancer. Saturday, sharing that journey to raise awareness was a top priority.
Music filed the air at the Lithia Amphitheater. It was an upbeat tone to bring attention to a somber and difficult journey.
“We really started to see a need in the community for education and self examinations and understanding your own health,” said LeRae Bullard.
Guests were exposed to a line of informational booths. It was a chance to discuss cancer risks, early diagnosis and treatment – even with the most unlikely patient.
“Testicular cancer is one that is often found in young men and they don’t know to screen themselves,” said Bullard.
A push for early detection by researchers, medical staff and a two-time ovarian cancer survivor.
“I wasn’t even sick, I went in for an elective surgery and then they found it,” said Claudia Buckle.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women. Because its symptoms are so vague, Buckle wanted to arm others with that crucial information.
“Find a way that would be helpful to me knowing that there are others coming behind me,” said Buckle.
Rogue Valley Medical Center staff said awareness is key as early detection improves survival rates.
“Baseline psa’s – that’s really what we are wanting to get out. Self examinations, breast examinations, mammo’s once a year,” said Bullard.
Buckle said a cancer diagnosis can leave a host of problems in its wake but reminds patients their destiny is in their hands.
“I don’t know how long I’ll live, that’s not important to me; its being proactive while I have this time,” said Buckle. Meanwhile, she said for her the party has only begun.
“Doctors need to know the symptoms so they can treat me, but as far as I’m concerned, I face life everyday as a point of celebration,” said Buckle.