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During an evening marked by hope, joy and laughter, nearly 500 guests celebrated life at Winthrop-University Hospital’s tenth annual Cancer Survivors Day dinner dance on June 5. Held at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale, the inspirational event gave survivors and their loved ones the opportunity to share experiences and enjoy camaraderie as they reunited with staff from Winthrop’s Institute for Cancer Care.

The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation defines a “survivor” as anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life. The annual celebration recognizes the significant strides made in the fight against cancer, as well as applauds the resilience of the human spirit.

Jeffery Schneider, MD, Director of the Lung Cancer Program at Winthrop and keynote speaker, shared what he has learned from treating so many patients with cancer. “As an oncologist, I have seen so many of you absorb that jolt (a cancer diagnosis) and recover from it to allow for your transformation to survivorship that we celebrate today. It has been well said that there are no great individuals, only ordinary individuals who may confront great challenges. I have had the privilege of observing the many different ways that cancer has transformed you from the ordinary to extra-ordinary.” Dr. Schneider also thanked the survivors “for sharing your tremendous capacity for life’s greatest emotions – sheer relief, genuine gratitude, unlimited happiness and pure love of life.”

Each year, Winthrop’s celebration grows larger, a testament to the fact that the number of survivors increases each year. New technologies and breakthrough therapies have increased the chance of survival, but early detection is still critical.

Cancer survivor and guest speaker, Stuart Schaller, emphasized this point. First diagnosed in 1982, Mr. Schaller has successfully dealt with four bouts of cancer, his last one during spring of 2008. “As survivors, we know that there is hope,” he said. “We see the progress in diagnosis and treatment that has been made in recent years. We need to encourage this progress, support each other, and share experiences among ourselves and with the uninitiated. We must stress the importance of early detection and treatment. My best advice to everyone is: ‘Don’t be afraid to see a doctor because you might find out that there is something wrong.”

Mr. Schaller praised Winthrop and its healthcare professionals for playing a major role in his survivorship. “Winthrop-University Hospital fits the perfect profile for me, large enough to attract great talent and be a center for leading edge technology, while small enough so that you don’t feel lost, and still receive a very ‘personal’ level of care – and it is only 15 minutes from my home.”

In addition to the dinner celebration, Winthrop’s Institute for Cancer Care sponsored an educational Cancer Survivors Workshop on June 25, which addressed the long-term medical issues resulting from cancer treatments, as well as Social Security disability issues and nutritional advice specific to cancer survivors.

For information on Winthrop’s Institute for Cancer Care, please call 1-866-WINTHROP.

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