OKLAHOMA CITY – Hundreds gathered Sunday at the Integris Cancer Institute to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day.
“Today is the day to recognize them and it’s an inspiration and reinvigorates each of us as caregivers,” said INTEGRIS Cancer Institute President Phil Lance.
Everyone in attendance had been affected by cancer. Whether they lost someone they love or battled the disease themselves, the group gathered Sunday to now celebrate life.
“The treatments started five days after my diagnosis and the side effects became my focus,” said Katie Zahasky, an oncology nurse practitioner and leukemia survivor.
For 32 years now, the Integris Cancer Institute has celebrated National Cancer Survivors Day.
“It’s a day that we can all come together. We can energize from each other and we can just celebrate the surviving fighters that constitute all of our cancer patients,” Lance said.
Survivors talked about how to continue in life after remission and were able to swap stories of survival with other cancer patients.
Zahasky said asking others for help after diagnosis was the most difficult part for her.
“What I found was by opening up and being open to that, they actually received a blessing as well. Because we all need to be needed and by opening up and asking for help, that allowed them to enter into my life in a different way,” Zahasky said.
According to the National Cancer Institute, just last year an estimate of over 600,000 people lost their lives to the deadly disease. But with new treatments and progression of modern medicine, the chance of survival is expected to increase in coming years.
The event ending with a butterfly release and continued hope for a cure.
“Being a part of a community where others have gone through the journey make your journey less lonely,” Zahasky said.