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Cancer survivors honored at event

June 24, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

The common denominator of beating cancer was enough to attract several hundred "winners" Sunday afternoon to the John R. Marsh Cancer Center's 15th annual cancer survivors event at Family Recreation Park on U.S. 40.

"I really appreciate being here," said Harry Daveler of Hagerstown, a one-year prostate cancer survivor.

Now 71, Daveler said he is especially thankful that he lived to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary recently, as well as all the other joys that life brings.

"This afternoon, I ran into three people with whom I went through radiation treatments for eight weeks," Daveler said. "Sadly, several others are missing."

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Many others who attended had similar mixed emotions - happy that they made it and sorry that others didn't.

Known as "A Sunday Social In The Park," the event was described as a celebration of life.

Betty Burger, also of Hagerstown, said she is proud of all she went through to qualify as a cancer survivor.

"The bottom line is I'm alive," said the 131/2-year breast cancer survivor.

Burger said she always remembered something Dr. John Marsh, now deceased, told her when she was in her life-and-death struggle.

"He told me I was a fighter and that just stuck in my mind," Burger said.

A large pavilion was reserved for the survivors and their families. Each survivor received a personalized pin showing how many years he or she has been cancer-free.

Patty Hanson, executive director of the John R. Marsh Cancer Center at Robinwood Medical Center, said more than 400 people were registered. She wasn't sure how many actually attended.

Each survivor got an "I'm a Cancer Survivor" T-shirt for coming to the picnic, Hanson said. Pins announcing how many years they had survived were sported by those who attended.

No meal was offered this year but there was ice cream and cake.

Entertainment included the Harmony Legend barbershop quartet, balloons and games for children.

Many of those who attended were feeling fit as a fiddle. Others were still recuperating from either their cancer or the side effects often associated with treatment.

"I just went through another operation to correct other difficulties caused by the radiation treatments I had to take for my cancer," Helen Keefer said.

The 36-year-old Hancock woman is a cervical cancer survivor. While the disease took her by surprise, she quickly learned she wasn't the only one affected.

"It's your kids that take the news the hardest," Keefer said.

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