They were fascinated by the various colors and took away a valuable lesson. When asked what smoking could do to his lungs, Reid pointed and responded “Turn it into that” – pointing at black lungs, something both cousins said they want to avoid.
Springfield lung cancer survivors who beat the disease under local care shared their stories including Beverly Mettert, 80. She was first diagnosed in 2003 and was motivated by getting back to doing things she loved like waterskiing on Buck Creek, something she did this past summer.
“Thank God I’m doing well thanks to the people at the cancer center,” she said while wearing a white ribbon pin signifying lung cancer awareness.
Ernest Higgenbotham is six years cancer-free and was surrounded by family. Although he uses an oxygen tank, every breath he can take is precious and he credits faith, treatment and the thought he would still be around for helping him.
“Stop it!” is his advice to smokers.
Guest speakers included State Senator Niraj Antani, who is vice chair of the state senate health committee and spoke about work to battle this and other health issues at the state level, and Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland.
Copeland shared his family members were heavy smokers who suffered health problems as a result and how grateful he was that his smoking a pipe lasted just three days.
“We have wonderful physicians here and we thank them for their services. The message is clear: We have good doctors but we encourage people to not smoke so they won’t have to see them,” Copeland said.
The event was aided by a grant from the Gala of Hope Foundation, which Is dedicated to helping fight all forms of cancer over 14 counties. This was the first intentional grant toward fighting lung cancer, and foundation executive director Jeff Brock was glad to see the results.
“Education and early treatment are the keys. This is why we wanted to partner with Mercy Health and Dr. Neravetla,” he said.
One of the event’s highlights was gathering in front of the inflatable lungs where the attendees took lighted pens to actually shine a light in tribute to those affected by lung cancer. While a beautiful moment, Neravetla would prefer a time when you’d never have to do it again.
“We’ve got the start of a great story here. Everyone is a hero just by being here. But we have to get to happily ever after to change the story.”
For more information on lung cancer screenings, contact the Mercy Health Springfield Cancer Center.