This year marks the 15th Anniversary of The Cancer Association of Havasu. Formed in 1999, the Association works to support the prevention and early detection of cancer. They hold multiple fundraisers throughout the year such as the Cancer Ball, the Elegant Evening Fashion show, the Breast Walk, and the Cancer Survivor’s Breakfast. They also ensure any money raised stays in Havasu to aide in prevention and early detection programs.

Early detection and prevention are keys to helping people survive. Being able to catch cancer in its early stages allows doctors to offer more options to patients. It also allows physicians to eliminate the cancer before it progresses to a point where the only options for treatment are more extreme. The Cancer Association of Havasu has helped set up Low-Cost Screening Programs so everyone can get checked out on a regular basis.

The Cancer Survivor’s Breakfast was an amazing event to attend. It opened with a group photo being taken of all the survivors in attendance, followed with a nice performance by the kids at Grace Arts Live. The songs, a couple of pieces from the show “13,” told a story about feeling different and the overwhelming need to fit in. In the end, there’s the realization that a person’s differences is what makes him or her so great. What a fitting theme for an event such as this.

Battling cancer affects an individual in several ways. Many people think there’s only the physical aspect of it—hair loss and nausea from chemo, weight loss, and fatigue. But, as any survivor and caregiver knows, there so much more to it thanbreakfastthat. Not only is this person battling a physical war with a disease, but they are also waging an emotional, physiological, and mental war with themselves, the disease, and society. Most survivors do not want pity from people, but rather want to be recognized for their strength and courage. Most of all, they want to be treated just like everyone else.

As the breakfast progressed, Mayor Nexsen read the Proclamation stating that the city of Lake Havasu has officially deemed June 7th as Cancer Survivor’s Day. Shortly after, the survivors stood and held hands as an inscription on the survivor’s candle was read. This candle is a symbol of the light that shines in every survivor—the light of courage and strength.

The two guest speakers, Chris Rolando and Dr. Rodney Rodriguez, brought many emotions out of the attendees. From laughter to deep reflection, their words hit home with survivors, caretakers, and guests. Dr. Rodriguez made a wonderful analogy using a deck of cards as a representation of life. He said that we never know what card we’re going to be dealt, so it’s important to live every day with the same reverence and love as you would if it were your last. Dr. Rodriguez was waging his own battle with cancer during the breakfast. He lost that battle on July 19th. He will be remembered for his amazing sense of humor, fierce friendship, and extreme talent as an oncologist.

The event ended with the presentation of the Lena Angel award. In order to receive this award, the recipient must be a cancer survivor as well as someone who gives back to the cancer community. This year the award was presented to Kathy Hodel. She was diagnosed one year ago and has been with the Association since it’s creation in 1999.

Carole Cathcart (Chairperson), Carol Ferrell (Vice Chairperson), Evie Cistaro (Co-Chair), and Marcia Tucker (Co-Chair), along with the many other volunteers, made this a beautifully memorable morning. For more information on the Cancer Association of Havasu and the programs they offer and support, please visit: www.havasucommunityhealth.org and click on Cancer Association.