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National Cancer Survivor Day celebrated in Flathead County

By Paige Sedgewick, Reporter, psedgewick@kcfw.com
Published On: Jun 01 2014 08:09:29 PM MDT
Updated On: Jun 01 2014 11:16:23 PM MDT
BIGFORK, Mont. -

Today folks in the Flathead celebrated cancer survival day in Bigfork with a symbolic butterfly release.

The holiday's been celebrated for 27 years nationwide, but we're told it's the first time in Flathead County.

According to American Cancer Society, more than one and a half million people were diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and cancer killed nearly 600 thousand people. It remains the second most common cause of death in the United States, which is one out of every four deaths. 

This afternoon several people came out to show their support to cancer survivor's in Bigfork.

"It's hard to say that,  that I am a survivor, but I am, I am," said Sandy Shaw, the organizer of the event.

Last year, Sandy Shaw was diagnosed with breast cancer. On Sunday, she stood before a crowd on Flathead Lake cancer free.

"And so I joined the club, none of us joined it electively but indeed, it's nice to feel and see people come together  to celebrate, us," said Shaw.  

And that's where the butterflies come in. Shaw organized an event to celebrate her fellow cancer survivors for national cancer survivor day. The butterflies are a symbol of hope.

"Butterfly release came up and it just seemed like the right thing to do cuz you know, there's a butterfly floating around in the air and it just gave us a lot of symbol, I think of hope and encouragement for our patients and individual survivors," explained Shaw.

The event is also a fundraiser for cancer research. Shaw knows the cost of cancer first hand.

"Cancer's not a cheap disease. You know, we all look at the emotional and the physical toll but financially it makes an impact on each individual," said Shaw.  

All the proceeds and donations from the fundraiser will go towards Flathead Cancer Aid.

The American Cancer Institute is projecting cancer costs to reach up to 158-billion dollars by the year 2020. That's a 27-percent increase from 2010.