Cancer survivors honored in Mt Vernon - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Cancer survivors honored in Mt Vernon

Balloons at Mt Vernon Airport lit up on Friday night (Source: Baloons Over Mt Vernon) Balloons at Mt Vernon Airport lit up on Friday night (Source: Baloons Over Mt Vernon)
MT. VERNON, IL (KFVS) -

This weekend is the third annual “Balloons Over Mount Vernon” in Jefferson County.

The skies east of town were lit up on Friday by 17 hot-air balloons, and  the weekend brought aviation-themed events to the area.

Four former-cancer patients were on the tarmac Saturday evening to share their stories with those who came out.

The original plan was to take the survivors up in one of the balloons, but the launch was scrubbed due to excessive wind at the airport.

The four survivors say that doesn’t mean the day went to waste.

“I knew that I had to fight, I knew that I had to be here.” explained Patricia Verdeyen as she reminisced on her battle with colon cancer. “[my daughter] was two at the time… I knew that she needed a mom.”

In-stead of going up, organizers went for symbolism; boarding the four former cancer patients into the balloon’s basket, and firing up the engine.

The only thing a hot-air balloon pilot has control over in-flight is altitude, and navigation is therefore at the wind’s mercy.

“I went through three surgeries, and 6 months of chemo.” Verdeyen explained, “for colon cancer,  the recommended age of getting screened is  not until the age of 50… I was only 32 when I was diagnosed.”

Patricia Verdeyen and Kathy Asbury claimed victory in their fights with cancer, and said Saturday that enjoying a day outdoors with friends and family was plenty to be thankful for.

“A lot of people take it for granted, even myself I took it for granted… I never dreamed that at 32, I would have cancer.”

“Being a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer… you wonder if you’re gonna survive to see your children grow old and do all of the developmental milestones that you want to be involved in.” former breast cancer patient Cathy Asbury explained on Saturday. “Find support. There are a lot of other people who have been in our shoes. You’re not alone, and cancer today is not always a death sentence.”

The balloon festival wraps up Sunday at the Mount Vernon airport

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly