Mid-Michigan counties rank among top in state for cancer cases - WNEM TV 5

Mid-Michigan counties rank among top in state for cancer cases

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BAY COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Several Mid-Michigan counties rank at the top, or near the top of annual incident rates for cancer.

When it comes to cancer, early detection is key to surviving the terrible disease.

Recent studies suggests certain people may be pre-disposed to the disease based simply on where they live.

"I had a lot of blood in my urine," said John Ratajczak, Bay County resident.

Ratajczak knew something was wrong. That blood he saw in his urine was a sign of cancer.

"There was a mass on my left kidney," he said.

Doctors diagnosed Ratajczak with kidney cancer.

"It was really scary because you don't know what's happening," he said.

Despite being scared one minute, when Ratajczak received the news the cancer was gone, he felt a whole wave of different emotions.

"When he said it was all gone and you'd be going home without a pill, or any chemo, or anything like that, it really was just like a rebirth of yourself," Ratajczak said.

According to a 2013 study by the National Cancer Institute, Bay, Tuscola and Lapeer counties lead the state in cancer cases.

Ratajczak calls himself one of the lucky ones. He's been a cancer survivor for almost two years. The 85-year-old still works every day at his bar off M-15.

He's thankful he won his battle with the deadly disease, thinking of everyone who has to live with cancer every day.

"Anytime things don't look right in your every day movements and structures, it's probably better off to get advice right away," Ratajczak said.

A Tuscola County resident's life was nearly cut short by cancer.

"I was passing out and I had no idea that I had anything wrong with me," Kathy Cabala said.

Cabala is talking about the time she found herself in the fight for her life. Back in 1975 her doctor informed her she had cervical cancer.

She is one of many people who have had to deal with the deadly disease in Mid-Michigan.

"It's sad. I don't know where it's coming from or why it's here, but it's not good," Cabala said.

Despite her diagnosis, Cabala stayed positive and found a way to survive.

"I wasn't even stressed out about it," she said.

Cabala believes prayer and her upbeat attitude are the reasons she's alive. She enjoys running her business and spending time with her loves ones. Cabala is grateful she has lived a long life after defeating cancer 40 years ago.

"It's exciting. And I get excited every year when they have the relay for life in Caro. It's a big deal," she said.

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