By Ms. Maria Gallegos (Army Medicine)June 27, 2014
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (June 27, 2014) -- Brooke Army Medical Center held its 8th Annual Cancer Survivors "50's style" celebration at San Antonio Military Medical Center June 21.
Music played by the 323rd Army band "Fort Sam's Own" livened up the festivities for more than 700 cancer survivors who came to celebrate their victory with their families, friends, and staff.
"Each year, BAMC presents this special day to honor and celebrate survivors, families, friends and staff," said Susie Ferrise, surgical oncology nurse case manager of the General Surgery clinic and BAMC Cancer Committee team.
"We want our survivors and their families to have a good time, network with other survivors and know how much we appreciate them."
Sponsored by BAMC Cancer Committee, the event featured a dance contest, best costume awards, door prizes, and informational tables regarding survivorship issues, education and support.
"Thank you all for coming out to this event," said Air Force Lt. Col. Peter Learn, General Surgery Staff surgeon and Cancer Committee chair, who gave opening and closing remarks.
"This event is all about you. We congratulate you and your loved ones for overcoming one of the most difficult times of your lives."
BAMC Deputy Commander of Administration Army Col. Mark Swofford also welcomed the guests and emphasized the importance of celebrating their success every day.
"This day is all about the celebration of those who survived, an inspiration of someone who was recently diagnosed, a chance to gather support for families and outreach from all the organizations, not only the medical team but also the support organizations that rally around those who are going through difficult times," said Swofford who is a son, grandson and nephew of cancer survivors.
"I dealt with this [cancer] personally, not like one of you who have been diagnosed," he said to the audience.
"But I have dealt with it personally in terms of the shocking news, the way it hits you, and the worry you feel for your loved ones. After you take all that into consideration and then you see the fortitude of the survivors, the celebration begins, you get better and that's what this day is all about, it's celebrating your success every single day."
Mary Roberts celebrated her third year as a cancer survivor after being diagnosed with melanoma when she went in for a mole exam on her leg. She expressed her gratitude for the event and also advised everyone to never give up and "to always wear sunscreen because you never know."
"For everyone who has cancer, there is hope. Not to give up -- you will get through cancer, there is life after cancer and God is with you always. God will help you through it all," she said.
"Your friends and family are always with you; be strong through strength and prayer."
Angela Gamble was diagnosed four months ago with breast cancer and now is cancer free after many treatments of chemotherapy. She strongly recommends all women to check their breasts periodically for lumps and not to skip mammogram checkups.
"I strongly encourage every woman to have a mammogram and to do self-breast exams. Anytime you feel a lump, don't wait, you need to go get it checked out right away because it can grow quickly," she said.
"Early detection of breast cancer improves the chances that breast cancer can be diagnosed at an early stage and can be treated successfully."
The event concluded with raffle drawings, costume awards and door prizes.
The BAMC Cancer Program is accredited by the Commission on Cancer and has received numerous accolades for its high-quality 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.