Cancer survivors gather to reflect on their journeys

Published 06/24/2019

Over 50 cancer survivors, family members, caregivers and friends attended South County Health’s 6th Annual Cancer Survivors’ Reception on Thursday, June 13, an event that recognizes the individual journeys each survivor takes from diagnosis through remission.

The event featured cancer survivor Jason Duffin (pictured here with oncology nurse navigator Leah Arsenault) who spoke about his personal journey and the experience that he and his family had, as well as the camaraderie they felt from the South County Health Cancer Center staff.

Also featured was South County Health pathologist Dr. Abby Hornstein who demystified some of the terminology and processes that often becomes part of each cancer patient’s routine. She offered a perspective of the breadth and depth of patient support that takes place within the Cancer Center. She and other clinicians who work in laboratories may not interact directly with patients in the course of their care plan, she said, but all are very much engaged with the patients as part of the care team.

“You may not see us,” Dr. Hornstein said of the physicians, scientists and clinical staff who work in sterile labs within the hospital, “but we are all concerned and are working toward your successful outcomes.”

The cancer survivors were invited to reflect on their personal journeys and write their thoughts on paper to be read aloud by members of the Cancer Center care team. Among them was the following: “Being a three time survivor reminds me every day that every day is a blessing, every day is a gift.”

Before the evening closed, Dot Zullo, a RYT200 certified yoga instructor, led the group through a series of mind and body exercises and members of the South County Health Cancer Center Patient and Family Advisory Council offered miniature bells to those who came to celebrate.

A bell-ringing ceremony has become a tradition where patients, after undergoing their last treatment of radiation or chemotherapy, ring a bell to signify they are finally cancer-free. This tradition was highlighted in a short video featuring Rebecca Westall, a cancer survivor who donated the bell used at the South County Health Cancer Center. Her bell is now used by other survivors who enthusiastically ring it to signify their strength and the end of the cancer journey as they exit the Cancer Center.

The sound of the bell, while a milestone moment for survivors, is marked with applause, hugs and the joyful tears of staff who traveled the journey with them.

Watch the video ---> The Bell