American Cancer Society estimates that in 2013, 1,600 people will die from cancer daily. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease. The statistics are startling, especially considering that most cases can be prevented.
In an effort to raise awareness, Katie Couric will host a Cancer Special, which will air on Wednesday, March 13th at 3pm. Couric was personally affected by Cancer when she lost her husband, Jay Monahan, to colon cancer in 1998 and her sister, Emily Couric, to pancreatic cancer in 2001. Healtheo360 is proud to have been a part of the extraordinary audience of cancer survivors, patients, caregivers, and friends for this special event.
Katie Couric’s organization, Stand Up 2 Cancer, provided t-shirts for guests to wear, which were color-coded by the impact cancer has had or is having on their lives. Those currently fighting cancer wore red shirts, yellow for survivors, grey shirts for those whose lives have been touched by cancer, and individuals who have lost a loved one wore white shirts to honor their memory.
Before taping the show, all invited audience members congregated in the ABC’s studio cafeteria. There, stories were shared and reactions ranged from joyous laughter to devastation. Pictures were taken, tears were shed, and information was shared as people therapeutically comforted each other. Cancer survivors (yellow shirts) were encouraging people currently in the battle (red shirts), while grey shirts consoled white shirts as the community acknowledged the impact cancer has had on their lives.
One by one, healtheo360 listened and learned from the remarkable individuals spotlighted on the show. One white shirted woman had founded an organization called Widows GPS, to support women who had lost their husbands to cancer. Another young lady wearing a grey shirt had organized Bonded Forever, making decorative bracelets to raise money for Cancer research. Suleika Jaouad, author of NY Times’ Life, Interrupted shared words of wisdom and encouraged people in their 20s living with cancer. Everyone who spoke was determined not to be defined or limited by cancer, but to take back control of their lives.
Celebrity panelists came out in full force to share their stories about the effect Cancer has had on them personally and to raise awareness. Fran Drescher, an ovarian cancer survivor talked about the importance of preventative measures against cancer. Blyth Danner, who lost her husband in 2002 to oral cancer, came to share her story and provide support and generate awareness.
The show highlighted a need for greater emphasis on early prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. We learned that regular preventative screening tests such as colonoscopies and mammograms could cut down the number of cancer-rated deaths substantially. After all, early diagnoses and quickly pursuing proper treatment are critical to surviving cancer.
The special also reflected on the power of conversation and how the more the community of cancer patients, survivors, friends, and family demonstrated solidarity, the more the community benefits. Strongly knitted communities, organizations and cancer support groups generating awareness and knowledge are some of the greatest tools to beat cancer.