CENTRAL NEW YORK, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Sunday, June 6 is National Cancer Survivor’s Day. Normally, the Upstate Cancer Center celebrates survivors at the zoo.

Due to COVID-19, this will be the second year they’re bringing the zoo to survivors.

NewsChannel 9’s Nicole Sommavilla spoke with a survivor who says events like these are what get you through the worst days of your life because if you are diagnosed, the most important thing you’ll need is a good support system.

“It’s the club you didn’t want to sign up for,” said Debra Lynch. She joined the club in 2015 when she was diagnosed with not one, but two types of breast cancer.

“When you’re first diagnosed you’re like, you know, you think it’s a big red X, this is it.”

debra lynch

Today — she’s a survivor.

The Baldwinsville art teacher has students, coworkers, family, and friends to thank for getting her through her hardest days.

When you’re low and you don’t feel like you can get up in the morning because you’re so sick from the chemo, you know, you’ve got somebody to pull you up by the bootstraps.

Debra Lynch

Debra says having a team of support is essential for anyone diagnosed with cancer.

On National Cancer Survivor’s Day, she’ll join her club at the virtual zoo. The club she never wanted to be in, but the one that got her through.

Chris Benton with the Upstate Cancer Center wants survivors to know they’re not alone, even if they can’t physically be together.

“There’s 17 million people in the U.S. alone diagnosed with cancer annually, so never feel that you’re alone,” Benton said. “We’re celebrating life, we’re celebrating cancer survivors and their caregivers as well,” said Benton.

On June 6, in a partnership with the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, they’ll take those in our community on a journey visiting camels, octopus, elephants, red pandas, flamingos, and more.

If you’re fighting cancer right now, Lynch has some advice.

“Do what makes you happy, every day,” she says. Find the people you can talk to, lean on, and though it sounds cliche… never lose hope.

“You’re kind of like with blinders on going through the motions and um, but for some reason, you come out and it’s like oh my god I made it. You have to have the faith that you’re gonna make it through.”

debra lynch

The Upstate Cancer Center will release a half-hour-long video in partnership with the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 6.

The hope is that cancer survivors and those in the middle of their battle can watch together, knowing they’re not alone. The video will stay up on the website past 7 p.m. in case people can’t watch the video at that time.

You can watch the video here.