Cancer Survivors Share Their Story for the 2015 Photo Voice Project

June 1, 2015

There are more than 14 million cancer survivors in the United States.

Being a cancer survivor ranks at the top of the list for anyone diagnosed or has had a loved one diagnosed with cancer. Millions of cancer survivors will celebrate their health and personal cancer journeys on Sunday, June 7 for National Cancer Survivors Day.

National Cancer Survivors Day is a celebration for those who have survived, an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families and an outreach to the community.

The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation defines a survivor as anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Georgia according to the Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry, a statewide population-based cancer registry collecting all cancer cases diagnosed among Georgia residents since January 1, 1995.

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is saluting cancer survivors in Georgia for their bravery and inspirational stories through a photo gallery project in observance of National Cancer Survivors Day.

DPH commissioned the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia to determine the outlook of cancer survivorship. Through surveys, focus groups and photo collections, first-hand accounts of overcoming cancer were collected from survivors in South Georgia for the 2015 Photo Voice Project. 

Photo Voice Project participants Mary Brown, Ryan Carr, Terri Coleman, Jennifer Dyson, Ursula Johnson, Tina Phipps and Susan Rhodes were equipped with digital cameras and asked to capture photographs that display a day in the life of a cancer survivor. 

The images, which document an honest and unfiltered look at the successes and challenges of surviving cancer, are now displayed at the Albany Museum of Art. 

“The Cancer Coalition is thrilled to have the opportunity to creatively explore stories of cancer survivors in South Georgia,” said Kimberly Scott, MPH, director of the Center to Reduce Cancer Disparities.  “The Photo Voice Project allows our organization to better understand the needs of cancer survivors in our area, and provides useful qualitative data that can benefit a variety of audiences including other survivors, health care professionals and caregivers.”  

DPH’s Project Officer Mauri Smith is one of the state’s cancer survivors and has previously shared her survivorship story through PHWEEK discussing how she endured chemotherapy, shaved her hair off, battled breast cancer and recovered.

Smith’s cancer is now in remission. During her cancer journey, she learned some of her greatest lessons in life about faith, resilience and friendship.

“At what may have seemed to be the worst time of my life with breast cancer, I became stronger as a woman, closer to my friends and family and thankful for the journey,” said Smith.

In addition to sharing life lessons gained during a cancer journey, National Cancer Survivors Day is also an opportunity to reflect on how these experiences influence a patient’s life after recovery.

For Smith, she’s gained a renewed commitment to her personal faith and a deeper appreciation for her community.

“Life is better after cancer,” said Smith.  “I am much more appreciative. I now realize how much people love to help and be of assistance and I can accept it. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I have more patience. And I have many more opportunities to share my faith!”

If you or someone you know is currently battling cancer, you don’t have to face the journey alone. Georgia provides a wealth of information and resources that assist cancer patients and their loved ones in understanding the cancer and accessing support services to ease the burden of the disease.

One of those resources is the Cancer State Aid (CSA) program, which provides cancer treatment support for Georgians that may be uninsured, under-insured or with limited annual household income.

You can also visit GeorgiaCancerInfo.org, an online cancer information portal created by the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (CORE), to connect to doctors, treatment sites, clinical trials and a list of organizations that support cancer patients, survivors and their families.  

Visit www.ncsd.org to learn more about National Cancer Survivors Day and how you can commemorate this celebration in your community. 

About the Author

You might like...

July 12, 2018

The Georgia Department of Public Health’s Worksite Wellness facilitated a panel discussion highlighting employees’ experiences with cancer and their stories of survival during National Cancer Survivor Month.... 

October 29, 2015

Breast cancer affects more than 200,000 women in the U.S. each year. Norma Mitchell never thought she would be one of those women.

“It was Nov. 17, 2011 and I was waiting for the doctor to officially tell me that it was breast cancer,” said Mitchell. “But while I was sitting there in the waiting room, I already knew.”

September 30, 2015

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is proud to join leaders in government and health care in observing National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.