"It was a very scary time. It was very consuming,” said Natalie Lighty, a radiation oncology nurse at the Southeast Alabama Medical Center. She wondered how long she had to live after she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer two years ago.
"You expect it to affect younger people or older people. I guess you don't expect it to affect you in your early thirties,” said Lighty.
Radiation Oncologist Dr. Jarrod Adkison says the age misconception is all too common in the community, but cancer doesn't discriminate.
"It can affect people from the pediatric population all the way to the elderly. And so people need to have a good self-awareness about what's going on in their own health, and also be aware of risk factors that could be changed in order to reduce their risk for cancer,” Adkison said.
The World Cancer Day Organization is keying in on other myths this year, including the belief there are no signs or symptoms of cancer. Dr. Adkison says the local community has reason to raise awareness.
We do see a great amount of cancer in our area, so I think everyone needs to be aware of their risks for cancer. They also need to be aware of their family history for cancer. They need to be screened for cancer at an earlier age,” said Adkison.
The SAMC medical staff says awareness, education and a game plan are key to preventing and beating the disease.
“We initiated a plan and we activated it, and now I am a survivor,” Lighty said.
Lighty is an inspiration and one of many examples to the community and the world, a light at the end of the tunnel for cancer prevention and survival.