HONOLULU (May 30, 2017) - The Tripler Army Medical Center's oncology clinic has a vibrant cancer survivor population and its staff members are committed to improving the lives of cancer patients.

For National Cancer Survivors Day, observed on Sunday, June 4, Tripler Army Medical Center celebrates cancer survivors and the progress medical researchers have made to improve cancer survival over the years. National Cancer Survivors Day is a time to celebrate life and also to raise awareness of the challenges faced by cancer survivors.

According to the literature review, "Expressive Art Therapy in Oncology Patients' Journey," cancer patients experience various psychosocial challenges of their illness. Additionally, when a patient's internal feelings are inexpressible with words, stress and anxiety increases.

In 2007, Tripler's oncology clinic hosted their first annual "Oncology on Canvas" event to offer everyone affected by cancer an opportunity to share their cancer journey through art and personal narratives. This year, Tripler hosted the 11th annual "Oncology on Canvas" event for over 300 patients and family members. The art exhibit is currently displayed at the Tripler medical library now through June 16.

Tripler's oncology clinic also participates in clinical trials with local and national cancer research groups such as the cancer research center at the University of Hawaii, Tripler's partner school.

"Tripler has participated in a number of clinical trials throughout the years," said Dr. Jeffrey Berenberg, Tripler Hematologist-Oncologist. "One trial we are currently working on with a national group, that is particularly relevant to our active duty population, is called the EROS trial [Engendering Reproductive Health within Oncologic Survivorship]. This trial looks at the impact of cancer therapy on fertility and the sexual function of pre-menopausal women who are diagnosed with cancer. [Because] when many women are treated they become infertile and we are looking to see what their fertility concerns are and how it affects their quality of life. This trial is specifically helping to contribute to the knowledge base [of cancer research]," added Berenberg.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overall cancer death rates continue to decline, resulting in more cancer survivors than ever before.

A local resource for breast cancer survivors is the breast cancer support group facilitated by registered nurse, breast health educator and breast cancer navigator for the Naval Health Clinic - Hawaii, Mary P. Johnson. "I created the group because there is no greater way to offer support to the survivors than to bring them together to help each other," said Johnson. "The group is open to all military active duty members, dependents and retirees who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer."

"Unlike other support groups, ours is about helping the unique military members, dependents and retirees through the cancer journey. Military members have the added stress of deployments, duty schedules, moves, children's reactions, separation and concern for their jobs, to name a few. The military culture is different and the survivors understand what each other are going through. They not only have a breast cancer diagnosis but they have the life of a military member, spouse, etc.," Johnson added.

For more information on cancer survivorship, please contact your Primary Care Manager at 808-433-2778 or visit Tripler's Patient Education Center.

For more information regarding Naval Health Clinic - Hawaii's breast cancer support group, call 808-473-1880.