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C-word — It will not have the final say

The c-word. I really don’t like saying it. And I suspect I am not alone. Far too many people I have known and loved have been affected by it.

My sweet grandmother was the first person I knew to have it. I was only 4 years old, much too young to understand what it really was when the c-word took her life.

All I knew is that one day Mamaw, Izzie Mae Morrison, was holding me in her lap and one day she wasn’t. The year was 1969.

I can still see her loving smile and feel her gentle touch. My mother, Frances Morrison Gibson, would later join her, again due to the c-word. Her life ended much too soon. The year was 1990. She was only 60. I was 25.

Last fall, I again said goodbye to someone very dear to me, my pastor and friend, Kevin Deason.

Kevin was an inspiration to many, helping raise thousands to fight the c-word in 2019, at a time when he was facing his own toughest battle.

His last public appearance was Oct. 27 at a finale benefit concert at Monmouth. Just a few weeks later, on Nov. 23, Kevin was given his wings. Together over a two-year period, Kevin and I, along with our cheerleader Mary Lessley and so many other dedicated volunteers in the Real Men Wear Pink/Team Natchez campaign raised over $50,000 — all to help find a cure for the c-word.

I am encouraged that all of the years of awareness and fundraising, however, are finally paying off. Today, conditions that just a few years ago were considered a death sentence are now treatable. And I am encouraged every time I meet a cancer survivor. Miracles are happening in our midst every day, and there is reason for hope.

Survival seems to boil down to one common denominator: early detection and treatment.

In the many survival stories I have heard, from the very ones who have beaten this deadly disease, the importance of continually monitoring one’s health and maintaining vigilance over anything out of the ordinary seems to be the No. 1 strategy.

All indications are that modern science and medicine have come light-years from just a few years ago, all thanks to the ongoing work of communities like Natchez that are raising millions of dollars each year for cancer research.

Of course the battle is not over. Just last week, I attended the funeral of a dear friend who fought valiantly to survive breast cancer only to have it return in March. She was 63.

But hope abounds. And the c-word will not have the final say. I applaud all who are hard at work, raising funds and doing the research needed to beat this disease. And I am hopeful that one day, it will be a thing of the past.

May God grant His grace, love and comfort to all who have suffered, and to their families, friends and loved ones.

And may we hearken with hope to a day when the c-word will be no more.

To make a donation online, visit www.cancer.org.

Dan M. Gibson is Mayor of Natchez.

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