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Cancer survivors celebrate life

June 07, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - When Jack Myers, 80, had to undergo 40 radiation treatments for prostate cancer during an eight-week period, he did not let it interrupt his busy schedule that included tennis, golf and singing in a choir, he said.

Myers, of Williamsport, was one of an estimated 900 people, mostly cancer survivors and their families, who attended a picnic Sunday hosted by the John R. Marsh Cancer Center, a department of Washington County Hospital.

The afternoon event was at the picnic pavilion at Williamsport Red Men Lodge 84.

Myers asked his doctors if he could continue to play tennis and golf at least twice a week while getting the radiation treatment, he said. He said he was surprised when his doctors said he could.

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The daily radiation treatments in 2001 did not seem to affect his athletic abilities, he said. He also continued singing bass with Hagerstown Choral Arts.

"I didn't mind," he said. "I rested at night."

Three years later, he still plays golf and tennis, often beating opponents 10 to 15 years younger than him, he said.

Myers said he enjoys attending the annual picnic for cancer survivors.

"It is great to see so many people that have survived. So many of them are people I know and it's great to see everyone healthy," he said.

Stephen Riedesel, 68, sings with Myers in the choir. He is a two-year survivor of prostate cancer and thinks the event is a wonderful way for people to celebrate that they are alive.

The annual event provides people with a shared medical past with a chance to celebrate life and to realize they are not alone in their fights, said Crissy Weaver, one of the event organizers and an oncology counselor at the center. She also is a 12-year cancer survivor, she said.

"It helps to instill hope. It is wonderful to get such large numbers here," said Weaver, 30.

The cancer center projected it would draw about 600 people to the event, not 900, she said.

One of the survivors said he dressed up because of the event's date, the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy.

Mitchell Miller, 81, of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., wore the military uniform he was issued by the U.S. Marines in 1941.

Miller is a 20-year survivor of prostate and stomach cancer, and melanoma.

He looks forward each year to attending the picnic so he can see old friends, he said.

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