GREAT FALLS – Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 22 percent of all deaths, according to Medical News Today.
Each year, roughly 600,000 people lose their battle to the disease, but there are many people who beat it. Sunday marked National Cancer Survivors Day and it’s one day Heidi Gibson celebrates every year.
“I was diagnosed in 2016 with Invasive Globular Carcinoma, which is breast cancer,” said Gibson, “When the doctor called it was leveling. Absolutely leveled me.”
Since then, Gibson has had a double mastectomy. “I felt like a warrior. Not a strong warrior, though. I was pretty beaten down.”
And now she is now moving forward by not only helping other non-profits but making a difference in her own life.
“I spent the last couple of years trying to get my wheels back under me and get my life together. One thing that cancer really does is makes things that weren’t necessarily clear before, really clear.”
She’s also making the most of the present and the future.
“It just shakes the ground under you. In a good way, it really clarifies things and make you want to live a good life. I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says I’m going to make the rest of my life, the best of my life.”
Gibson is also reflecting on the time so far.
“It gave me that moment where I was proud of what I had done and if I had been diagnosed later, in later stages, because I was diagnosed very early, that I had lost my battle, that I knew I had lived a good life.”
She had this message for others who are currently battling cancers.
“Never give up. I think that there’s time that it’s easy to ignore the symptoms and to justify this as something else, but the earlier the diagnosis, the better the intervention.”
While Gibson never had to go through chemotherapy or radiation, she will take a different treatment for the next 10 years.
Reporting by Kaley Collins for MTN News