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Harris Blackwood: Cancer is a terrible foe to be forced to contend with
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BelkGives on the Go Mobile Mammography

What: Women age 40 and older with no breast concerns, who have not had a mammogram in the last 12 months and have a primary care physician are eligible for a screening

When: 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 16

Where: Lakeshore Mall, Gainesville

Cost: Free

More info: Call 855-655-2662 to schedule an appointment or visit www.belk.com/pink

I hate cancer.

It is a terrible foe, and I hope someone out there will one day find a cure.

I was born into a family of four. Because of cancer, I am the only one left. Don’t feel sorry for me, just double down in your resolve to see this disease eliminated.

My daddy died in 1984 of cancer that began in his stomach and was already in his liver before doctors discovered it. He fought a courageous fight, and I watched him keep going with a body that became gaunt and frail. I don’t know he ever gave up, he just got worn down.

Mama’s cancer was discovered about a week before her 70th birthday. She had her first cocktail of chemotherapy on her birthday. About three months later, just two weeks before Christmas, she was dead.

My brother, Dixon, started having some blurred vision and headaches. The culprit turned out to be a brain tumor. He had a long stretch where we thought the radiation and other treatments were working. Then, the disease grabbed hold of his brain. He began losing the use of his legs, and his memory started to be erased. He died in 2008.

I can’t bring them back. Yes, I have memories of their sickness, but I choose to dig deep into my box of memories and recall the good times we experienced during their lives.

But the good news is that we have better diagnoses than ever before. Specialists can share information with nearby doctors to provide the latest care protocol.

A co-worker of mine, Jim, became concerned when a close friend was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Jim decided to get a PSA test. Sure enough, he was found to have prostate cancer, as well. The good news is, this week he learned that doctors were able to remove the cancer and his prognosis is excellent. He will continue to get PSA tests on a regular basis.

That’s the news for all of us, getting regular checkups. For people who spent many hot summers in the sun without protection, a regular visit to a dermatologist can help you monitor the possibility of skin cancer.

Women who have reached the age of 50 should get regular mammograms. They can begin earlier if there is a history of breast cancer in your family.

If there is a history of any type of cancer in your family, you should discuss it with your doctor. Early detection is the greatest way to improve your chances of survival.

I am so thankful for organizations such as the American Cancer Society, which has raised millions of dollars for cancer research. The Relay for Life has become one of the society’s greatest fundraisers.

Most often, they begin with a survivor’s walk. It is so encouraging to see people who are responding to treatment or are now living cancer free because of the work of the ACS.

If you haven’t been asked, here is your request to support the Relay for Life. You won’t have to look too far to find a team that could use your financial gift. Do it in honor of someone who has fought cancer and won or do it for someone who fought a good fight and you remember them with love.

Yes, I hate cancer, but we can win this battle by working together.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com

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