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Regional Cancer Center

Cancer Survivor Luncheon Helps Patients Connect

navigating cancerLike all good luncheons, the food played a vital role, but the real stars were the participants. Cancer survivors recently met to share their experiences at the annual National Cancer Survivors Celebration of Life jazz luncheon, held this year at Gulf Coast Medical Center.

"The best part of the event for me is to see, not only all of the collaborating organizations volunteering their time to welcome all the attendees and make them feel special, but that the survivors and their guests meetand socialize with other survivors and guests and get to relax, talk, laugh, smile, and enjoy uplifting support andplenty of hugs foreach other," says Marie Hepp, ARNP, oncology outreach education coordinator for Lee Memorial Health System. "They come away no longer as strangers." The Regional Cancer Center, including 21st Century Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists, Florida Gynecologic Oncology, and the Oncology Nursing Society collaborated and supported this event.

The goal of the luncheon is to celebrate life and every second that we have. Melissa Kramer has survived brain, breast and fallopian tube cancer. She attended the luncheon with her sister, Wendy Schraiar, also a breast cancer survivor, and their mother, Rosalyn Shraiar, who has provided support for both of her daughters.

"The luncheon was a chance to meet other people who have lived through a similar event," Melissa says. "It was also just nice to still be here."

Melissa says that many people have played a role in her road to recovery. "Everyone at Gulf Coast Medical Center was phenomenal," she says. "The people who were put in my path were very humble and very good at what they do, from the janitors, to the people who wheeled me down the hall, to the doctors and nurses."

Melissa and other survivors give hope to the future and to the prospect of more medical breakthroughs, Marie says. "I hear folks say very often that they are not a cancer survivor because they are still going through treatment," she says. "A cancer survivor is anyone living with a history of diagnosis through the remainder of their life. I let them know that, 'If you're breathing a minute after a cancer diagnosis, then you are a survivor.'"

“The luncheon was a chance to meet other people who have lived through a similar event,” says multiple cancer survivor, Melissa Kramer.

Surviving Cancer

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