NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches Mayor Roger Van Horn's recent cancer battle provided a unique connection to a younger generation. The disease was the topic for East Texas Student Councils' at their Fall Conference held this week in Nacogdoches.
Van Horn was on equal ground with others battling cancer for either themselves or a loved one. In the attentive audience were student councils.
"First of all, I'm really proud of you in your concentration about the reality of cancer," Van Horn said.
The officers, representing 14 East Texas school districts, studied various cancers for presentations at a Fall Conference.
The research couldn't match the testimonials from individuals facing cancer head on.
"I was a little hoarse and they fortunately found it," Van Horn said. "It was right here in my laranyx. Fortunately, they found it early and I did not need surgery or chemotherapy."
Unlike Alondra Curl. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 20.
"I just found that out like two weeks ago," Curl said.
A cancer diagnosis is shocking news for the patient, as well as for their family and friends.
Alondra's twin brother, Orlandon, is the support team's strongest member.
"We're not giving up," Orlandon said. "Never give up. I ask you guys to do all your research. Do as much research as possible. Do self examinations. Everything. Do not give up."
Faith keeps these panel members from giving up.
"There are blessings that I would not have received had I not gotten cancer," Van Horn said. "And what it did, the scripture did for me, and I think we can all talk about that, it changes your vision. It gives you hope."
The cancer stories are raising awareness about a reality that changes lives.
"In some cases teenagers legitimately do not care, but when you get into a group of people like we have in all the student councils across the state they care so much for their communities, for the people that they know," said Ryan Monroe, the Nacogdoches student council president.
"I feel like it's our job to encourage our friends and our peers to look forward to the future and start living a healthy lifestyle now," said Sekela Minor, the Lufkin student council president.
Cancer outcomes can be joyful and heartbreaking.
Van Horn just completed a regiment of radiation conducted five days a week for six weeks.
"You can hear my throat is still healing from that, but I am well and cancer-free," Van Horn said.
Meanwhile, Alondra returned to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center this week.
"So I ask that ya'll pray for me," she said.