Surviving cancer with a little help from friends

ALBANY, Ga. -- Put a bunch of cancer survivors in a gym and you have laughter, energy and the good vibrations that camaraderie ignites.

As part of National Cancer Survivors Day 2012, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital presented a "Celebration of Life" in its Third Avenue Healthways gym.

"This is a national day for men and women to celebrate their success in getting past cancer," said Linda Van Der Merwe, vice president, Oncology Services. "It is s time to celebrate with their families."

According to a pamphlet from the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, the celebration is in its 25th year. It is a worldwide event honoring those living with a history of cancer including America's nearly 12-million survivors.

"Let this day be filled with love, joy, smiles, laughter and plenty of hugs," wrote Harold Varmus, director National Cancer Institute.

The day included lunch, popcorn and camaraderie with other survivors and their families.

"I've been a survivor for a year," said Jemmie Thomas, a Camilla resident. "I like the way they put out all the information on cancer out there. Coming here with all theses other people lets you know you have support from the hospital and the community."

Cancer also affects those such as family members whose loved ones contract it. Carl Thomas, Jemmie's husband also felt good about the survivor event.

"She got it, but it felt just like I had it," Thomas said. "I'll always be grateful for the support I got from people at the hospital and here today."

People at the celebration all had good feelings to share about the hospital, their healthcare professionals and other cancer survivors at the event.

"I've met a lot of people I went through treatment with when I was in for treatment," said Brenda Chandler. "People from the hospital and their families."

Eva Burtz has more than 45 years as a cancer survivor. She has been to a few of the survivor celebrations.

"The support here is just wonderful," Burtz said. "I feel blessed."

The event featured speakers Dick and Debbie Church, authors of "Don't Ever Look Down." They have survived as a couple through Debbie's onset of breast cancer in 2008.

The couple's book has many topics that touch on cancer and the battle to survive. Topics include: The stages of cancer; the ways spouses respond to the intrusion of cancer in their lives and advice for couples dealing with this disease.


tocar 3 years, 5 months ago

Why didn't Phoebe advertise in advance the date, times and place of National Cancer Survivor's Day? So many of us did not know and we would have attended. There should have been a notice in advance in the Albany Herald and other local media. I feel that I missed a huge event as my husband and I both are cancer survivors. The celebrations would have been blessings to us.


chinaberry25 3 years, 5 months ago

I did not hear of it either. My husband is a survivor of 3 years. They certainly cull this. Nothing.


bubbavet 3 years, 5 months ago

There were a lot of cancer survivors who were not aware of this. Who was responsible for getting or in this case NOT getting out the word?


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