National Cancer Survivorâ??s Day brought more than 500 cancer survivors to a celebration at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Liverpool on Saturday afternoon.
The group ranged in age from 5 to 85, with some in attendance surviving cancer for over 40 years. They were all treated to a festive Hollywood themed atmosphere. Fancy clothes were worn, star-like photos were taken, and a dancing stage set the tone for the event, something that many were lined up to see.
â??These people are extremely enthusiastic,â?? Leslie Kohman, Medical Director of the Upstate Cancer Center says. â??They come to the door an hour before it starts.â??
The enthusiasm comes from the perspective each survivor has gained since being diagnosed with the disease, and National Cancer Survivorâ??s Day is just another reason for them to appreciate every moment of every day.
â??Itâ??s been quite a journey,â?? Sherry Falcone, a 44 year cancer survivor says. â??Itâ??s given me a great lesson in life to appreciate all the little things, and I think itâ??s helped me to make great decisions in my life.â??
In the 15 years that Upstate has sponsored the Survivorâ??s Day here in Central New York, Falcone has been to 10 of the celebrations. Kohman says she hopes there will be more like Falcone, who will help events like this grow, and boost the survivor population as well.
â??The treatments are getting better,â?? Kohman says. â??The death rates from cancer are falling, slowly, but theyâ??re falling. There will be more and more survivors as we go into the future and these people need to know a normal, thriving life is ahead of them.â??
While each of the survivors had their own support groups, many of those survivors spoke of the supporting they were doing themselves, for those currently battling cancer.
Rick Renaud, who was diagnosed with head and neck cancer two years ago, says shortly after he was diagnosed three of his friends were also diagnosed with the same cancer. A two year and three week survivor, Renaud now serves as an inspiration for his friends.
â??I think I have helped a couple of them,â?? he says. â??Theyâ??ve had a lot of the same doctors, so theyâ??ve been in just as good hands as I have been.â??
Those doctors from Upstate Cancer Center will soon have a 73 million dollar facility to work in, as they are currently constructing a new center on the corner of East Adams and Almond Streets, which excites many of the survivors who receive regular treatments.