WINDBER — When a person is diagnosed with cancer, said Stoystown resident Carmen Perigo, "Nothing is black or white any more. Everything is gray. It is just a roller coaster ride because there are good days and bad days. There are good months, bad months. There is just a cloud over you always because you are always wondering what is going to happen."
Perigo was the guest speaker at the Windber Relay For Life. He said because having cancer gave him time to think, he came up with three things one needs to beat cancer. The first is technology and medicines that are here today.
"Thirty years ago things were not as good as they are today," in the fight against cancer, he said.
The second thing, said Perigo "is you need a positive attitude and the support of all your friends, relatives or whatever it takes." He said by looking at the crowd of cancer survivors, many with their caregivers and family, he added, "I can see that here right now. There is a lot of positive attitude here today or there would not be any people here."
"The third thing I see and probably the most important to me, is the power of prayer and I think it is here right now because I can feel it," which drew a round of applause. "I remember back to 1977, 36 years ago when I was in an automobile wreck and received a broken neck."
He said the prognoses was very slim but the doctors put him in traction and four days later, on July 12, he was operated on.
"I made it through that and I thought well life has been good to me and God has been good to me," he said.
Thirty years to the date Perigo was diagnosed with cancer. He was operated on for colon cancer and found out the cancer had made it through the colon walls.
"I had cancer all through me. My lymph nodes, my gallbladder and my liver," he said. "So they sewed me up and gave me 20 rounds of chemo."
When the tumors got smaller he underwent another operation in Pittsburgh, again on July 12.
"I made it through the surgery and they told me I am cancer free. I don't consider myself as cancer free," said Perigo. "I don't think you are ever free of cancer. I am a cancer survivor. It is always in the back of your mind because you are never positive you are cancer free."
After his operation Perigo said to himself that he would give back to others fighting the battle against cancer.
"I have met some very good people. Today is actually the first time I have spoken in front of a crowd, but I have been to the hospitals to talk to people. I believe there is hope," he said. "You can't give up and you need those three things I spoke about before."
As Perigo ended his talk, he said, "And today is my birthday, July 12."