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American Cancer Society Turns 100

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Over 4,000 people in South Dakota will be diagnosed with cancer in 2013. And it’s estimated that over 1,000 of them will die from the disease. But Wednesday was all about celebrating those who have survived.

The organization that celebrates birthdays, was celebrating its own Wednesday morning. One hundred survivors and supporters created a sea of purple with balloons, at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux Falls, to celebrate a century of the American Cancer Society.

“We're here today celebrating survivorship and the progress we've made against the fight against cancer,” said Erik Gaikowski, State Leadership Director for The American Cancer Society of South Dakota.

Since 1913, the organization has been searching for a cure for cancer, helping those who are fighting it, and giving hope to all. One of those people is Jean Ann Hentges.
In 2011 Hentges was diagnosed with a type of uterine cancer called endometrial cancer. After six rounds of chemotherapy, a hysterectomy, and 25 radiation treatments, she was cancer free. But six months into her remission she found out her cancer was back.
“Nine rounds of chemo again recently, part of the cancer, the most aggressive part is gone,” said Hentges.
Now she has moved onto hormone therapy for the next three months. But being able to celebrate a milestone for the organization, gives Hentges hope that she will once again beat cancer, and continue to celebrate her own milestones.

“Those little things are what helps us rebuild our hope and keeps you going,” said Hentges.
 And as survivors release their balloons into the sky, it symbolizes that their fight might be over, and they will be around to help others continue theirs.
“Sixty years ago, about one out of three people survived cancer,” said Gaikowski. “And now today, two out of three are surviving cancer. We aren't going to finish the fight until we are three out of three.”

In honor of the day, Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a proclamation declaring May 22, ‘American Cancer Society Day’ in the state of South Dakota.
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