Western Colorado Cancer day: Taking control of your life with cancer

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- The St. Mary’s survivor-ship program hosted its second annual Western Colorado Cancer Day on Saturday. The free event brought together cancer patients and survivors from across the Western Slope to share stories and ask questions.

The day’s sessions were focused on taking control of your life with cancer, St. Mary says you may have cancer but cancer doesn't have you.

Colorado has more than 215,000 survivors and thrivers.

"You can have a bald head in here and no one's going to bat an eye,” said St. Mary’s Cancer services resource manager and Cancer survivor Debra Hesse.

More than 300 survivors and caregivers are on the road to take back their lives.

"All of my aunts, and my daughter has had breast cancer,” said Lorie Sanchez who is the main caregiver to her mother.

Making friends and sharing advice.

"Take notes when you go to your doctor, because you're so overwhelmed you forget everything that they tell you,” said Breast Cancer Survivor Diane Almy.

To learn how to overcome and beat cancer with more than 44 companies and programs.

“They have to learn a new language and deal with all of the tests, and all of the surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy it's a very frightening time,” said Hesse.

Each table set, to bring people together and share stories.

"A friend gave me a hug and it hurt, so a mammogram showed it where it hadn't seven months prior,” said Almy.

Diane had no family history of breast cancer when she got her diagnosis; she's now in her fourth year of being cancer free.

"I'm concerned because I have two daughters and now I have a granddaughter,” said Almy.

Survivor Kristina Potter used a 3D imaging mammogram to find her tumor. She says meeting others like her made her feel not so alone.

"It helps a lot at first I couldn't think of anybody that had maybe survived cancer and it's really gratifying to see people that have had several years on it and it gives you a lot of hope and help with your life,” said Breast Cancer survivor Kristina Potter.

Cancer not only affects one person but everyone close to them.

“It's taught me to appreciate every single moment, not every day but every moment I have with her is special,” said Sanchez.

More than 400 people came out Saturday, sharing their experiences and advice. St Mary’s says for most cancers, you can receive all the care you need right here in Grand Junction, from as soon as you get a diagnosis to post-treatment.

St. Mary’s encourages everyone to get their annual checkups and screenings. More than six percent of the population in Colorado is living with cancer.

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