National Cancer Survivors Day is an annual worldwide celebration of life where cancer survivors unite to show the world what life after cancer looks like. On Sunday, June 3, Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge and Thompson Cancer Survival Center at Methodist honored these cancer survivors by hosting Survivor Sundae, an ice cream social for survivors, their families and friends.
More than 100 cancer survivors, caregivers and the community gathered to enjoy the free event, make ice cream sundaes, connect with other survivors and cancer support organizations, and listen to music by the Mt. LeConte Jug Band, which was sponsored by the Cooperative Agreement of Labor and Management (CALM).
“Sometimes people have a negative idea of what life after cancer looks like,” said Kim Maes, manager of Methodist’s Cancer Support Services and event organizer. “But the reality is that more people are living longer and having better quality lives after cancer than ever before. Survivors are showing us that life after cancer can be meaningful, exciting and filled with joy.”
A Day of Joy
The day was indeed filled with joy, with music and friends, and with door prizes, giveaways and a fun photo booth. Guests learned about skin cancer prevention at the sun safety booth, young attendees enjoyed the Kid’s Zone, while survivors and cancer patients had the opportunity to learn about community resources. These include the Cancer Support Community and American Cancer Society as well as services offered by Methodist such as lymphedema therapy, Thompson Cancer Survival Center and the Wound Treatment Center.
The Survivor Sundae festivities included people of all ages, from all walks of life and with many different associations with a disease that touches everyone in some way.
The Precious Gift
“Every day I have the privilege of interacting with cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones,” said Thomas Repine, MD, of Thompson Oncology Group, Oak Ridge. “As their physician, I am the one they lean on to guide and care for them through their cancer journey. However, I am also the student from the standpoint that cancer patients realize the importance of prioritizing life. For most, their diagnosis brings clarity on the big picture – the value of time and relationships, and the insignificance of the clutter and noise. With each of my patients I am reminded of the precious gift we all have in life, and for that I am truly grateful.”
Maes concluded, “Every year, this event shows cancer survivors that people in the community care and want to celebrate with them as they come through such a difficult journey.”