A little over 100 cancer survivors, cancer patients, and caregivers gathered at the Hyatt Regency Saipan last Sunday for the Cancer Survivors Gala, which was held in celebration of Cancer Survivors Day.
The gala was intended for cancer survivors to share their stories, share their triumphs, to empower others who are currently battling cancer, and just to enjoy the company of one another, according to Commonwealth Cancer Association executive director Juan Babauta.
The event has been celebrated for six years now.
“Cancer survivors were invited today to just have fun, and to just celebrate life,” said Babauta.
The event, hosted by CCA, showcased the stories of cancer survivors, what they went through and how their lives changed once they were diagnosed with cancer.
One man told of surviving testicular cancer. According to him, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 37. Surgery removed the mass of cancer that was found in his body. After the surgery, he then underwent another six months of chemotherapy. In 2006, the results of a scan showed that the lymph nodes where the cancer mass was removed were normal again. He was deemed cancer free.
According to him, cancer patients usually have an emotional and negative mindset. He wishes to help others who are currently battling cancer to change that mindset.
He participates in CCA’s monthly forum to share his experience and help cancer patients psychologically while also celebrating his second chance in life.
“Stay positive….Don’t think cancer is going to beat you, you can beat cancer,” he said.
According to CCA president Bo Palacios, caregivers are also celebrated at the gala.
Caregivers are not only registered caretakers but also family and loved ones who dedicate time into caring for a relative who is or was battling cancer.
According to Palacios, caregivers were invited to share their stories and how life is like when you’re caring for a cancer patient.
“By sharing their stories, they can inspire hope,” said Palacios.
Saipan Mayor David Apatang was also present at the event. Apatang, himself a cancer survivor, is happy to see so many survivors like himself share their stories.