New report on decreased cancer mortality rates provides hope for cancer patients

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A new report by the American Cancer Society said that the rate of cancer deaths has fallen every year for the past 26 years.

Radiology equipment at Hall-Perrine Cancer Center on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020 (Jackie Kennon/KCRG).

Dr. Vincent Reid is a surgical oncologist at the Hall-Perrine Cancer Center. He said while that is great news, it just emphasizes the importance of healthy behaviors to reduce your risk like not smoking, eating well, exercising, and getting regular screenings.

Miranda Neff is looking forward to 2020. In January 2019, she was just 25-years-old when doctors diagnosed her with stage 3 triple-negative inflammatory breast cancer. She said hearing reports that mortality rates are going down provide hope during a terrifying time.

“It should give people incredible hope,” Reid said. “There's no reason why we can't continue along those trends if we continue those positive behaviors of getting screened, seeing your physician regularly, and a cessation of smoking.”

Through it all, Neff kept her same positive attitude.

“I kind of just woke up one day and was just like, ‘You know what, this isn't the worst thing that could happen to me,'" Neff said.

Today, after 20 weeks of chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, and 30 days of radiation, Neff is done with her treatment.

Wednesday was Clifford Schupp's first day of chemotherapy after a stage four esophageal cancer diagnosis shortly after Christmas.

“It was a gut punch,” Schupp said. “I'm still kind of numb over it.”

His mother, an RN, beat breast cancer twice. He says he's seen a lot of medical advances in his lifetime.

“Years ago when you heard the word cancer, I think most people looked at it as an automatic death sentence,” Schupp said. “That's not the case today.”

Schupp and Neff are both hopeful for a future without cancer.

“Every day I just reminded myself it's temporary, just one day at a time, it will be ok, it will be ok,” Neff said.

Neff has a Facebook page and encourages anyone who's gotten a cancer diagnosis to reach out to her for support.