“I was like yeah okay, and I cried a little bit, and then I cried more, and I cried more,” said Jeff Kline, who overcame testicular cancer in 2001, and was clear of cancer for 15 years when he was hit with unpleasant news in the form of a new diagnosis.

Kline was diagnosed with colon cancer November 2016 after a polyp was discovered during a colonoscopy, and the veteran who served 21 years in the U.S. Army decided this time around he would have a positive outlook while being treated at The Delbert Day Cancer Institute at Phelps County Regional Medical Center (PCRMC).

“After I gave the army all those 21 years, I said that was hard, and I said this should be easy,” stated Kline during the annual National Cancer Survivors Day celebration at Greentree Christian Church in Rolla. “And so far it has been since I have been going to Delbert Day.”

The 31st year of National Cancer Survivors Day and the 5th annual National Cancer Survivors Day celebration held by PCRMC and the Delbert Day Cancer Institute on June 2 was a celebration for survivors of cancer with “Give Cancer the Boot” as this year’s theme.

The day served as an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, those who know others diagnosed and those who want to advocate and help educate people about cancer where the determination of community members who have survived cancer or continue to endure cancer like Kline, illustrate cancer as not a hopeless diagnosis, but a diagnosis where one can live a rewarding life.

The Delbert Day Cancer Institute provided hope for Kline who noted his admiration for the people that he has become acquainted with through the cancer center. A staff that uplifts him every day he goes for treatment and those whose stories have influenced him and showed him how others continue to endure the pain with their heads held high.

“You meet a lot of people up there, and then you get to know their stories, and you think you have it bad until you talk to somebody else who has cancer and they have more than one cancer, or cancer has spread somewhere else,” said Kline.

In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. according to the National Cancer Institute, and Christopher Spencer, medical director and radiation oncologist for the Delbert Day Cancer Institute at PCRMC, is focused on preventing cancer, and decreasing the amount of cancer that affects people’s lives.  

One of the essential pieces in prevention Spencer believes is a strong survivor program like the one present at the celebration.

“If you look at everything that has been written from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and all the powers that be, a strong survivor program is one of the most important pieces,” said Spencer.

Regular health screenings are another critical part in limiting the risk of developing cancer, and educating family, friends and the community on what’s it’s like to go through cancer and the options available to prevent the disease are crucial.

“There is a very robust screening program in this community,” said Spencer. “For those who can’t afford mammograms we have a program here in the breast cancer awareness month that will allow women to get mammograms and the foundation and the hospital pay for that.”

Screenings for women should start in their 40’s, and every woman should go through screenings to prevent breast cancer, but besides breast cancer, there are numerous types of screening concerns that fit into the lives of everyone, according to Spencer, especially since screenings detect cancers at an earlier stage making them easier to treat.

“My goal is for all of us to have a healthier community, to have less cancer and to have to use the cancer center less,” said Spencer. “I love seeing this room full, and I love seeing everyone here, but it would be nice if within 20 years this room can be empty -- that will be my goal.”