Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert recognized cancer survivors and family members who had lost loved ones with talks and song as it held its third annual Cancer Survivorship Day on June 4.
“Today is a day we celebrate those who survived, those who passed and those who are still fighting,” said Lynn Schuster, the program lead of cancer survivorship at Banner MD Anderson.
Large yellow balloons spelling the word “survivorship” greeted visitors in the lobby of the cancer center. Booths offering resources, volunteer opportunities and cancer screenings lined the tightly packed hallway.
“Our goal really is to reach the community to show them what resources we have here on our campus and community resources for cancer patients and their families,” said Sarah Murphy, coordinator of the survivorship program.
‘America’s Got Talent’ singer performs
Evie Clair, a finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2017, performed for the crowd in the lobby. Shortly before her appearance on the finals, her father lost his battle with cancer while being treated at MD Anderson.
Clair said it is always fun doing big shows like “America’s Got Talent,” but she loves doing events like the Cancer Survivorship Day because she can connect with individuals in the audience, especially given their similar experiences with cancer.
“Even if I don’t know everyone here personally, I can still emotionally connect to them,” Clair said.
Sense of support
The event provides a sense of community and support for those who have survived or still have cancer, according to cancer survivor Dave Thigpen, one of the event’s two speakers.
“I think more than anything else, it provides an avenue for those that are scared to death of cancer to see that there is hope,” Thigpen said.
Thigpen was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma in 2015. He spent 19 months in treatment at MD Anderson and has since been cancer-free. He later spoke to the crowd after Clair’s performance.
“I’m hoping … that we talk about cancer the way we talk about polio and tuberculosis—we don’t,” he said.