Geraldine Beck is a 15-year breast cancer survivor. Her mother passed away from the cancer when she was a teenager. She considers herself very lucky to be alive.
Ophelia P. Lee is one of five in her family to have conquered breast cancer. She found out through a self-exam and was a bit shocked but, because of her sisters' survivals, unafraid. She has been cancer-free for three years.
Calvin Henderson lost his father in 2000 to lung cancer but kept his wife after her eight chemotherapy and 38 radiation rounds. He was dressed in a pink shirt and had a pink-ribbon speckled cloth wrapped around his hat to support her.
Scott Ansede works as Aiken Regional Medical Centers' chief operating officer. He is a 13-year cancer survivor.
Each of these people gathered with hundreds more to honor all cancer survivors at Aiken Regional Medical Centers' Cancer Care Institute of Carolina's 17th annual National Cancer Survivor Day on Friday.
All of those treated through the cancer facility, along with their families and friends, were invited to enjoy free food and entertainment by Henderson, an Edgefield DJ with his own business, and Danette Kelley, the Aurora Pavilion associate who sang soulful '60s songs.
Henderson called for staff members and past patients to come up to the front to dance and sing to songs like Aretha Franklin's “Respect” and Gloria Gaynor's “I Will Survive.”
Center workers like Ansede, Dr. Mark Ezekiel, radiation oncology, and Dr. Sitki Ergul, hematology and oncology, spoke to the audience, while Kathy Cole, Center chaplain, lead a prayer.
“The workers are really friendly and help you any way they can,” Beck said.
Lisa Glass, American Cancer Society South Atlantic Division's community manager, made an appearance to gather volunteers for the Cancer Prevention Study-3, a long-term study for cancer-free people between 30 and 65; the study's website is www.cancer.org/cps3.
Door prizes such as gift bags, a lamp and popcorn were handed out. A family portrait was given out to the longest surviving male – 24 years – and female – 45 years.
Each survivor received a ribbon and T-shirt.
The annual photo with all the survivors in attendance was taken around 1 p.m.
“I wouldn't be anywhere else today. These people cherish every breath. (They) have a different kind of joy. You see it in their faces,” Henderson said.
Prostrate cancer for men and breast cancer for women are the two cancers often seen as the unit, Ergul said. For treatment, when it is possible, the doctors try to do targeted-treatment and chemotherapy.
To contact the Cancer Care Institute, call 641-7850.