Survivor hopes for awareness and kindness on World Cancer Day

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) —February 4 is World Cancer Day. It spotlights a disease that affects countless people but may not be getting its usual attention because of the pandemic. The day’s theme for 2021 is “I am and I will.” It is an effort to bring awareness of the vast impact cancer has on the community.

Indiana has one of the worst cancer survivor rates. According to the CDC, Indiana is in the bottom ten states when it comes to cancer being deadly. However, these statistics are a motivation for Hoosiers to bring awareness of the disease and instead fight to survive.

Chad Handley is battling cancer is and honest that it isn’t easy.

“Sometimes you just gotta hide and cry,” said Handley.

The 41-year-old lives in Fishers with his wife and two kids. He credits his survival to his family’s support. Back in June of 2019, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“It’s not common. I think there’s 50,000 cases a year in the United States and I think 40,000 people die,” said Handley.

After surgery and many of rounds of chemo, Handley said the treatment he’s getting at IU Health is working.

“I have one spot in my liver and that is about it. So other than taking chemo every week and off for a couple of weeks, you know, life is not too bad,” said Handley.

It’s positivity that he said everyone needs, even during a pandemic.

“It’s got our kids and family so close, that I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Handley.

Like a lot of people, the family has spent a lot of time together, at home. In fact, Handley said for cancer patients, it’s been good to not have much on the social calendar. However, they do miss that social interaction during treatments and seeing their doctors face to face.

“When I had my first 12 treatments, I had my aunts, my uncles, my best friends, my wife. Like, we would have a great time in there. Now you can’t do that,” said Handley.

So this World Cancer Day, he hopes people remember to be there for these patients. He encourages acts of kindness, be it a meal train, shoveling someone’s driveway, or simply a few nice words.

“Helping people out going through anything is what is needed,” said Handley.

People can also help by donating to cancer research. More information can be found at the World Cancer Day website. The Lustgarten Foundation, Let’s Win Pancreatic Cancer and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network are also all raising money to beat the disease.