Living is a team effort

Cancer survivors celebrate life at picnic

Cancer survivors celebrate life at picnic

June 13, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

WILLIAMSPORT - Participants at "A Celebration of Life" use the word "we" to describe how they beat cancer. Many of them remember not only the doctors who diagnosed and treated them, but the nurses, radiologists and friends who brought them through a difficult time.

For cancer survivor Charles "Bud" Lucassen, life is a testament to his wife's love and persistence.

"Yes, I'm very lucky. If it hadn't been for her, I would have said, 'To the devil with it,'" said Lucassen, of Smithsburg.

Hundreds of cancer survivors and their families gathered Sunday to celebrate their victory over cancer as part of the John R. Marsh Cancer Center's 18th annual survivorship picnic.


According to Susan Lopp, administrative director of the cancer center, 765 people registered for the event at the Red Men's Club lodge near Williamsport. The registrations included about 360 cancer survivors and current patients, Lopp said.

Lopp estimated the center, which is part of Washington County Hospital, treats more than 700 people a year.

Dave Watters, 47, of Hagers-town, said he is considering going into business for himself, and he and his wife, Linda Watters, are weighing whether to move out of state. The diagnosis of cancer "sort of smacks you between the eyes," he said.

"You can't sit around and wait for this thing to beat you. You take the treatments, and do what the doctor tells you most of the time, and you pick up the pieces and move forward," Watters said.

According to his wife, Watters is a strong person and a fighter. He has about a year of treatments left, Linda Watters said.

Lucassen admitted he is inclined toward quitting, but his wife, Marjorie Lucassen, wouldn't let him give up when he was diagnosed with oral cancer in October 2001.

"He said, 'The cancer is in my body, and I'm not going to take the radiation,' and I said, 'Well, you're right, the cancer is in your body. And you are going to take the radiation,'" Marjorie Lucassen said as she and other picnickers enjoyed lunch under a pavilion outside the lodge.

Charles Lucassen, 75, acknowledged he's living on borrowed time - thanks to his wife's confidence, he could beat cancer.

"But, it's gone. I ain't worried about it now," he said. "I say, 'It is gone.'"

Early detection

Detecting cancer early through routine tests and checkups and maintaining a positive attitude are keys to beating the disease, survivors said.

Margaret Sigler said her children provided all the motivation she needed when her doctor discovered cancerous polyps in her colon.

"That gave you something to really live for, was children," Sigler said.

Sigler said she had three large polyps and about a dozen small polyps removed when she was a 35-year-old mother of two.

That was 52 years ago.

"I had a good doctor, Dr. Richard Hauver," said Sigler, of Smithsburg.

According to Sigler, the doctor later died of cancer, but she has never forgotten him.

"After five years, I asked him how long I would have to live, and he said, 'Oh, you could live to 65,' and I'm 87," Sigler said with a laugh.

Marjorie Lucassen said she's grateful she was able to push her husband to pursue his options and get better.

The two have been married since 1980, she said.

"I thank God every day. We need each other. We need each other," Lucassen said.

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