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ALABAMA – A cancer diagnosis can change a person’s life. With tough treatments and a weakened immune system, the journey is oftentimes one of the hardest a person goes through.

The American Cancer Society says the pandemic has added even more hurdles for patients, “One of the things we’ve learned through the pandemic is that people did not get their yearly screenings,” Emily Ogden, with the American Cancer Society said.

She also said the organization suspects that at least 30,000 Alabamians will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Ogden says while many patients would have gotten their normal yearly testing and screenings, the pandemic kept people from getting their routine checkups.

“We are really afraid that there could be even more cancer patients out there that we don’t even know about. People that actually have cancer right now that don’t know it because they missed their screenings this year,” Ogden told News 19.

Ogden encourages everyone to make an appointment and get their screenings if they weren’t able to during the pandemic. But, she says that’s not the only obstacle cancer patients are facing during the pandemic, she says vaccinations are another hurdle.

“You know, we want to do everything we can to do our part, to make sure that our neighbors are safe, that our patients are safe and our communities are safe,” Ogden said.

Back in August, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that immunocompromised individuals who had been initially vaccinated with either the Pfizer-Biotech or the Moderna MRNA vaccine receive a third dose.

As guidance continues to change for the demographic, Ogden says there is a way you can help.

“So, kind of one of the most important things we can do to protect cancer patients is to make sure that as many people have their vaccine as possible,” Ogden said.