Hope, camaraderie and inspiration were abundant during NYU Winthrop Hospital's 19th Annual Cancer Survivors Day event held on June 14, 2017, at the Carltun on the Park in East Meadow. Attended by more than 400 cancer survivors, their loved ones and Hospital staff, the inspiring event provided all with the opportunity to join together for the annual heartwarming "Celebration of Life."
The evening included a cocktail hour, three-course dinner, music, raffle prizes, and inspiring reflections from two honorees. The event celebrates the resilience of survivors and advances in treatment, recognizes the loving support of caregivers, and demostrates that there is life after a cancer diagnosis.
Guests were welcomed by Eva Chalas, MD, Physician Director of NYU Winthrop's Cancer Center, and Palmira M. Cataliotti, CPA, Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer. Both speakers reaffirmed the Hospital's commitment to the cancer program and expressed their gratitute for seeing so many people in attendance.
Jim Johnson, patient speaker, was optimistic and exuberant: "I'm the luckiest guy in the room," he said. Last year, an annual physical with his primary care physician was postponed by about a month. During this delay, a small, seemingly insignificant bump appeared on the side of his neck. When he had his appointment, Mr. Johnson offhandedly mentioned the bump to his physician, who suggested that he get it checked out. "Had I kept my original appointment, it would not have been there and I may have ignored it." he said.
Ultimately, Mr. Johnson was referred to Jeffrey Schneider, MD, NYU Winthrop's Chief of Oncology/Hematology, who diagnosed him with head and neck cancer, but assured him he would "be okay." Mr. Johnson's year-long treatment was challenging, but today, he is doing well. "Some days, you will need the light from others; other days you will be the light for them. As long as there's light, there's hope!"
Guests also heard from Janet Shehata, MSN, RN, OCN, NEA-BC, Administrative Director of Cancer Services at NYU Winthrop, who spoke both from the unique perspective of a provider and a two-time cancer survivor. Diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma at age 14, she battled the disease successfully for about a year, and revealed that this experience inspired her to become an oncology nurse: "I wanted to help people the way they helped me," she said. Twenty-seven years later and well into her successful career as an oncology nurse, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Yet today, she is doing well. Both of these experiences have only strengthened her resolve to help provide the best cancer services possible for patients. "Since the day I was diagnosed, I go into work each and every day putting myself 'in the patient's shoes,' as I am the cancer patient," she said.
In addition to praising the outstanding care they received from NYU Winthrop, both speakers expressed gratitude for the loving support they received from their families and friends during their journeys. Acknowledging the significant role of caregivers in fighting the disease, Mr. Johnson asked all caregivers to rise as he and Ms. Shehata toasted them.
NYU Winthrop's Cancer Survivors celebration also included an educational workshop held on June 22. Topics included the importance of exercise and managing expectations after survey and treatment, in addition to a question and answer session with members of a multi-specialty panel - "Casual Conversation: All you wanted to know about Cancer Survivorship."
The annual Cancer Survivors celebration is coordinated by the Cancer Survivors Day by Jeffrey Schneider, MD, Chief of the Division of Oncology/Hematology, and includes Hospital staff.
NYU Winthrop's Cancer Center is an award-winning place of healing and hope, certified by the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer, as well as the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. With all of the resources of a world-class, patient-centered facility, the Center delivers exceptional, highly specialized care for virtually every type of cancer. For information about NYU Winthrop's Cancer Services, visit www.nyuwinthrop.org or call 1-866-WINTHROP.