Nash UNC Health Care celebrated Cancer Survivors Day on Friday by providing a relaxing and luxurious experience for current patients of the Danny Talbott Cancer Center and other patients who have been out of treatment for up to two years.
Roughly 180 cancer survivors attended the event, which featured a luncheon, massages, manicures, smoothies, craft projects and live music. Lily, the pet therapy dog, was also present to visit with survivors.
“This is the third time in four years that we have held this event, and it gets bigger each time,” said Sterling Grimes, director of the Danny Talbott Cancer Center that opened on the campus of Nash UNC Health Care about two years ago. “The first time we held the event, only about 50 or 60 people attended and about 120 attended last year’s event.
“I think this is an indication of how many more people are benefiting from the services we provide.”
Dr. Jay Manikkam, one of the physicians who works at the center, said he enjoyed seeing his patients through a different lens.
“It is nice to see them here today in normal circumstances,” he said. “They are being people, not just patients.”
National Cancer Survivors Day is traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday in June, marking the national recognition, but the timing of the celebration worked out better for patients and staff on Friday, said John Griffin, a spokesman for the hospital. The event was designed to celebrate each person’s strength, courage and survivorship, Griffin said.
Sallie Imke knows what it means to be a survivor. Imke, a former chaplain for Nash UNC Health Care, was at the event with her husband, Christoper, who currently is receiving treatment at the Danny Talbott Cancer Center.
“I was first diagnosed with cancer when I was 40 and it has come back in different forms several times since then. But I am now 75,” she said.
At one of the stations, survivors used paint colors coded to their form of cancer to place their thumbprint on the painting of a “survivor tree.” Each thumbprint represents a leaf on that tree.
Paulette Piper was painting a rock Friday at the Inspirational Rock Station. She is a patient at the center undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
“This is a nice event,” Piper said. “Cancer patients need a boost now and then.”
Another patient, Daniel Tucker, also was decorating a rock at the event. The rocks later will be added to the therapy garden at the center.
“This is a good event because it helps remind people of how serious cancer is for some people,” Tucker said. “It also gives family members a chance to see the center.”
Jeanette Barrett is a patient undergoing treatment for small lung cancer at the center. She said she most appreciated the way everyone is made to feel special at the center.
“I love it here. It has a nice atmosphere and nice people. You don’t have to have something to have something here. You don’t have to be somebody for people to care about you,” she said.
According to information provided by the hospital, between 500 and 600 patients are diagnosed with cancer or receive treatment for cancer at the UNC Cancer Care at Nash each year. Of that number, about 20 percent receive some level of financial assistance for their treatment. To help meet these needs, the Nash UNC Health Care Foundation manages a Cancer Patient Assistance fund to help patients who need financial help.
To donate to the fund, visit www.nashhealthcarefoundation.org or contact Stacy Jesso at 252-962-8584.