INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – This year marks the 20th anniversary of Feb. 4 as World Cancer Day.
It’s a day that puts the spotlight on the more than 18 million people suffering from the disease worldwide.
This year’s theme is “I am and I will.” The Union for International Cancer Control says the theme recognizes the power we all have in cancer prevention, detection and treatment around the world.
Closer to home, the American Cancer Society says Indiana could see more than 37,000 new cancer cases this year. Lung, breast and prostate cancers being the top three.
Beth Dial, a nurse oncology navigator at Ascension St Vincent, says Tuesday is a day for all cancers, even the ones that don’t have walks or designated days and colors.
As a cancer navigator and survivor herself, Dial’s role is to guide a patient from diagnosis through treatment, assisting in financial or medical questions so they can focus on healing.
“The questions I get asked the most are, ‘am I going to die?’ and ‘how am I going to pay for this?'”
It’s these questions that patients like Penny Ford says she asks herself daily.
With no family history, Ford was diagnosed with uterine cancer in October 2019.
“The first few days were awful, just awful. I would have good days and then something would remind me that I have cancer,” said Ford.
Shortly after her diagnosis, she met Dial. Ford says she immediately felt at ease.
“There are those few quiet times where I have the pity party and woe is me, but then I snap out of it and I think of something. I’m still battling and I’m not done and it’s not going to get me,” Ford said.
Dial admits that despite treatment coming a long way, cancer is still a scary word.
But she also says, “education is key. When patients educate themselves about the disease. If they know what they’re facing and that there is hope, then they do really well.”
Patient navigators play a critical role in ensuring patients get accurate information, so they don’t end up falling into the rabbit hole of the Internet.
Dial says the best way to celebrate World Cancer Day is to talk about it.
“If you know someone going through cancer, offer to take them to their treatment this week or send them a text,” said Dial.
As for Ford, she wants World Cancer Day to be a reminder for everyone to get screened.
“You know your body. Listen to it and talk to your doctor. It could save your life,” Ford added.