Turning cancer into Christmas cheer

Published 01/07/2019

Kathy Sylvander and Sharon Grecian. South County Health employees, Kathy Sylvander and Sharon Grecian, are self-proclaimed ‘Christmas nuts,’ who just wanted to spread cheer during the holidays. What was missing, they noticed, was holiday decorations in the switchboard lobby.

Sharon, who works in housekeeping, and Kathy, a coder in the HIM department, work second shift and became friends over the years. They also share a connection through cancer – Sharon receives infusion treatments every six weeks and Kathy has family members who have battled cancer.

“Most of the people who walk through here are either going to the infusion lab or the Cancer Center,” Sharon said of the lobby on Borda 1.

For some reason, the area had gone without holiday decorations for the past two years, they noticed. So the friends decided to change that and placed a Christmas tree in the lobby. But instead of traditional Christmas ribbon, ornaments, and lights, they decorated the tree with the colored ribbons of cancer.

“There are 30-plus colors for cancer, including zebra stripe. I found as many colors as I could,” Kathy said.

Once the colored fabric was cut and shaped into cancer ribbons, the two hung them as ornaments, including silver and blue for loved ones who are coping with cancer.

“We were hoping that if (cancer patients) have to pass by, the people who work there and the people who have to go there will benefit,” Sharon said. "It’s cheery. It’s not just a hospital. It reminds them of the season.”

The colors of cancer

Lung cancer: white
Brain cancer: grey
Breast cancer: pink
Liver cancer: emerald green
Lymphoma: lime green
Prostate cancer: light blue
Stomach cancer: periwinkle blue
Bone cancer: yellow
Leukemia: orange
Colon cancer: dark blue
Carcinoid Cancer - zebra stripe