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From Georgia Congressman John Lewis receiving a tribute from the American Cancer Society to Sheryl Crow urging people to resume regular health and wellness screenings, here’s what’s happening in the cancer landscape this week.
Former U.S. Representative John Lewis, who died from stage 4 pancreatic cancer in July 2020, will be honored by the American Cancer Society (ACS) at an event in September.
The Hope Ball is an annual formal event held in Atlanta, Georgia, to raise awareness and funds for the ACS mission. The evening features live and silent auctions, dinner, a program and the Hope Award tribute, a distinction which will be given to Lewis, whose family will accept the award on his behalf.
“The family of the late Congressman John Lewis would like to notably thank the American Cancer Society for choosing to honor him at this year’s Hope Ball," Lewis' brother, Grant Lewis said. "One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and we are honored to support ACS’s efforts towards supporting patients and finding a cure.”
Lewis dedicated his life to racial and social justice advocacy in his community and around the world. He also advocated for access to health care and cancer awareness.
“Representative Lewis was not only a pillar of the civil rights movement but an ageless example for all advocates and lawmakers on how to live a life of service,” Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, ACS’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, said.
Karyn Turner was first diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in 2016, which was treated with surgery and one dose of radiation. However, in July 2020, she found a lump under her arm. After a biopsy, it was revealed that her cancer had returned. She was diagnosed with stage 3 HER2-positive breast cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes.
Turner began chemotherapy and dealt with many difficult side effects. Then, her surgery had to be postponed when she tested positive for COVID-19 in December 2020. She eventually underwent the surgery in March, having 27 lymph nodes removed. She will continue chemotherapy, supported by her husband, Richard, who is a bladder cancer survivor.
On May 13, Turner was introduced as the Seattle Mariners Honorary Bat Girl and threw the ceremonial first pitch. The Honorary Bat Girl program was started by Major League Baseball in 2006 to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.
“You have to stay on top of your annual screenings and self-exams. I insist that the women in my life make appointments and go in and get their mammograms,” Turner told MLB.
Nadia Chaudhri, PhD, is a neuroscientist and associate professor at Concordia University in Canada, was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer last year. Chaudhri, 43, has been documenting her cancer journey via social media.
On May 11, Chaudhri shared a post on Twitter about sharing the news with her child.
“Today is the day I tell my son that I’m dying from cancer,” she wrote. “It’s reached a point where he has to hear it from me. Let all my tears flow now so that I can be brave this afternoon. Let me howl with grief now so that I can comfort him.”
In follow-up posts, Chaudhri expressed her appreciation for all of the support she’d received through social media and shared more photos of her son. She wrote, “Our hearts broke. We cried a lot. And then the healing began. My son is brave. He is bright. He will be okay. And I will watch him grow from wherever I am. Today was the hardest day of my life.”
Sheryl Crow, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, spoke to CBS46 about the importance of prioritizing health screenings, after many people delayed or cancelled them due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had a routine mammogram set up, and I was really dreading it, I also felt like it was kind of unimportant, because I didn’t have any breast cancer in my family, I was super fit, I felt very young, good eater,” said Crow.
Many doctors have also been highlighting the concern of lack of cancer screenings and health visits in general.
“We’re still seeing at least a 30% decline in the number of screenings being done compared to pre-pandemic years,” said Dr. Laura Makaroff, the Senior Vice President of Prevention and Early Detection for the American Cancer Society.
Crow added that many women may feel there are just not enough hours in the day to drop all of their responsibilities to go get a mammogram.
“I kind of thought of an opportunity to speak to all the women who have followed me for years, and who now have daughters, whose daughters have daughters, and be able to speak to them about advocating for themselves,” she said.
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