TRAVERSE CITY -- There was good reason to celebrate Sunday afternoon as family members and survivors gathered for the 22nd annual National Cancer Survivors' Day picnic held on the lawn of Building 50.
Local medical oncologist, Dr. David Gordon, MD, spoke to those who gathered with their friends and loved ones, about the advances in cancer treatment since the first survivors' day in 1987.
"The improvements in some forms of cancer have been slow but steady," said Gordon, noting, however, that many forms of cancer can now be cured through treatment including surgery, radiation, drugs or a combination of the three.
Survivors and their supporters, each with their own personal story of treatments, heartbreaks and successes, were invited to the festivities for a celebration of life, laughter and sharing.
"It is always a fun time, getting to see people year after year," said Kathleen Hayes, a cancer survivor who attended her first picnic in 1996.
Though Hayes said the first few picnics she attended were more emotional for her, a way to mark another year, she looks forward to sharing the celebration with other long-term survivors as well as those who have been recently diagnosed.
"This gives the newly diagnosed an opportunity to see that there is a high-quality life beyond cancer," Hayes said.
Karen Deolf, a nurse at Munson Medical Center's radiation oncology treatment center, said she always feels encouraged by seeing familiar faces during the annual event.
"I get to see patients that I haven't seen for years. It is always great to see them doing well," Deolf said.