Every day, more and more cancer patients are surviving and thriving. That was just one of the positive messages on Sunday, June 4, when Stony Brook Cancer Center welcomed 300 courageous people who are living proof that cancer diagnosis and treatment have come far.
“Together we can push back on cancer,” declared Yusuf A. Hannun, MD, Director, Stony Brook University Cancer Center and Vice Dean of Cancer Medicine. The audience met his welcome with cheers and applause for the miracle of being alive.
More than 1,100 people attended the event, Stony Brook’s 13th annual recognition of this worldwide celebration. Stony Brook Cancer Center’s parking lot became a carnival, complete with games of Bedpan Golf, Chemo Bag Toss and the ever-popular Dunk-a-Doc. And later, in the annual Parade of Survivors, some marched victoriously with fists raised, some helped others walk, and some made their way in wheelchairs.
Dr. Hannun told those gathered that Stony Brook Cancer Center is experiencing a renaissance of unprecedented growth, spurred on by the new Medical and Research Translation (MART) building expected to open in the spring of 2018. The MART will allow Stony Brook Cancer Center physicians, nurses and staff to treat twice as many patients, he said.
“We will transform cancer care, right here in your own neighborhood,” Dr. Hannun said. “We make this commitment to make sure that each year, we have more cancer survivors to celebrate.”
As part of Suffolk County’s only academic medical center, the Cancer Center leads the way in clinical care, research and education. Cancer Center staff provide safe, effective and high-quality treatment through cancer care teams, individualized plans of care, highly targeted radiation treatments and minimally invasive surgeries.
“It’s important for patients to come to National Cancer Survivors Day, and realize that there are many other survivors,” Dr. Hannun said. “They haven’t been selected for any punishment. Illness is a part of life, and we have to deal with it and survive. The same with the families — it’s important for them to see that there are other families engaged in supporting their loved ones. It’s important for our physicians and nurses and professional staff too, to meet the families and children and loved ones of survivors. And then we have fun. We make it a joyous event.”
Jennifer Arnold, MD, MSc, FAPP, star (with her husband Bill Klein) of TLC’s television show “The Little Couple,” gave an uplifting talk at Survivors Day. Dr. Arnold told the crowd that her first job as an attending physician in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was at Stony Brook University Hospital. She shared details of her life growing up with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, a rare bone growth disorder that results in a form of dwarfism, and talked about being diagnosed with cancer just after she and her husband adopted their second child.
“I may have obstacles in life, but I can’t let that stop me from having the life that I wanted,” she said.