Let’s talk about cancer — National Cancer Survivors DayPart IV in the Cancer Awareness Series
Cancer survivors and their families, friends and caretakers gathered for an afternoon of food, music, fellowship and remembrance Sunday, June 1, at the Laurel Ridge Country Club in honor of National Cancer Survivors Day.
The 27th annual celebration of life and survivorship was hosted by Drs. Charles Thomas, Barton Paschal, Praveen Vashist, Lewis Royster and the staff of 21st Century Oncology at the Haywood Cancer Center, and Radiation Therapy Associates of Western North Carolina, P.A.
Those in attendance enjoyed a barbecue lunch and the musical stylings of Bobby and the Blue Ridge Tradition.
Gratitude, humility and strength were common themes heard among survivors.
Nancy Robinson was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 42 and has been in remission for the last seven years.
“It’s empowering,” she said, when asked how she felt about beating cancer. “You feel like you’ve conquered something.”
Nancy Wyatt, another breast cancer survivor who’s been in remission for five years, agrees.
“God has the victory,” said Wyatt. “I never let it get me down. The stronger I made myself, the easier I made it through it.”
Ken Martin, from Waynesville, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997 and has had normal to low cancer markers for 17 years.
“I’m very thankful,” he said. “I’m not cured, but it’s not bothering me. I thank the Lord.”
Linn Damon, of Waynesville, a breast cancer survivor who’s been in remission for seven and a half years, takes each day as a gift.
“Beating cancer gives me a new perspective on everything,” she said. “Nothing is guaranteed. You just have to enjoy every moment and every day.”
Cynthia Lynn, of Canton, was diagnosed with breast cancer that went to her back and hips. She said that as the doctors continued looking, they kept finding more and more.
“I was lucky,” said Lynn. “My breast cancer was estrogen dependent. I took a drug that blocked estrogen and the cancer shrunk.”
She then underwent radiation for the cancer in her back and hips.
Lynn had nothing but good things to say about her care and treatment at Haywood Cancer Center.
“The whole team is phenomenal,” she said. “Each of their staff members is warm and caring. If you need to cry, they’ll hold your hand and let you cry.”
In July 2013, Lynn was at Stage IV; as of January 2014, her cancer markers were found to be normal — which means the cancer was receding — and her tumors were getting smaller.
“I thank God every day,” said Lynn. “There are so many, many people who prayed for me — coworkers, friends from all over. I know what death is; I held my husband’s hand when he passed. I’m not afraid of dying, but I’m glad I don’t have to go there yet.”
The afternoon concluded with a solo performance by Rich Inman who sang “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and a recitation of the poem “On the Wings of Hope.” The poem served as a prelude to the afternoon’s conclusion — a butterfly releasing ceremony.
As of Jan. 1, 2014, it is estimated that there are 14.5 million cancer survivors alive in the United States. With continuing strides in education, preventative medicine, medical technology, surgical procedures and treatment options, there will be an estimated 19 million survivors in the U.S. by Jan. 1, 2024. The increase in survivorship gives hope to those who are currently facing a long struggle with cancer.
For more information about cancer treatment options, call Haywood Cancer Center at 452-2320. Haywood Cancer Center is located at 600 Hospital Drive, Suite 10, Clyde.