Updated: Friday, 11 Jun 2010, 12:34 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 11 Jun 2010, 12:31 PM EDT
West Haven, Conn. (WTNH) - At the VA hospital in West Haven, you'll find displays on education, prevention and treatment of cancer. But because it's a Veteran's hospital, you'll also find people who share not only the bonds of being cancer survivors, but also the bonds of having served their country.
Bill Hehl served in the Navy. Not during wartime. Instead his big battle came later in life against the tumor in his chest.
"It's too close to my windpipe and it's too close to my main artery to be taken out, so I have to live with it," Hehl said. "I have to go through the treatments...."
On this Cancer Survivors Day, Bill and other veterans of service and of cancer came to hear Storm Team 8's Doctor Mel Goldstein speak. Dr. Mel is also fighting cancer - multiple myeloma.
"We are in a real battle and for some of you, this isn't the only battle that you've been through," Dr. Mel said. "Never before have we been winning the war against cancer the way we are winning today."
For Bill, the war has been tough. "They told my son get ready to pull the plug. I wasn't going to make it," Hehl said. "And I said no, I'm going to make it."
Betty Bolivar also served in the Navy. She beat her cancer and now volunteers at the VA hospital, where she says people know a thing or two about fighting an enemy.
"And of course, when you hear the word cancer, the first thing you think of is, it's over," Bolivar said. "But it's not. You just have to go on and fight it."
Whether it's folks like Bill and Dr. Mel who are still battling cancer, or they're like Betty and me and are now cancer free, on this day and any day, cancer survivors will tell you we hope medical science keeps progressing so that in the future, nobody has to go through what we did.