Dozens of cancer survivors — as well as family members and friends — gathered outside of the Baylor Scott & White Cancer Center, 2207 S. Clear Creek Road in Killeen, to celebrate the 2nd annual Give Cancer the Boot survivor event.

Baylor Scott & White, in partnership with AdventHealth, invited medical doctors and cancer survivors to share their stories in researching and dealing with the disease.

"On March 25, I was officially five years cancer free," cancer survivor Cleo Kent-Vandersalm said to cheers and applause. "But once you have cancer, for the rest of your life you are fighting to stay alive."

Kent-Vandersalm said the cancerous gene was passed down through her mother's side of the family and that several women in her family, including herself, eventually developed breast cancer. At the event, she thanked her doctor for saving her life as well as for being her friend as she was going through the treatment process.

"Research is the one thing we all need to do" to continue fighting against cancer, she said.

According to statistics found on cancercontrol.cancer.gov, there were 16.9 million cancer survivors in the United States as January 2019. This amounts to 5% of the population. The number of survivors is projected to grow to 21.7 million by 2029.

During the event, Dr. Derrick Nguyen said the cancer mortality rate has continued to fall for the past several years, according to recent statistics, and he said this was a cause for happiness.

"Today is a celebration of life and cancer survivorship," he said.

Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra was also in attendance, and he presented the facility with a proclamation recognizing June 2 (the first Sunday in June this year) as National Cancer Survivor Day.

"Thank you all for inspiring us, and thank you for being survivors today," Segarra said.

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