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Attitude's big for cancer survivors in Chambersburg

June 02, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Neither Shawn Corwell nor his doctors expected the 35-year-old's leg pain was from B-Cell lymphoma.

The initial depression after diagnosis yielded way to a fighting attitude, which Corwell shared Sunday from the stage at the local National Cancer Survivors Day luncheon.

"The biggest thing is life's not over," Corwell said. "You've just got to live life."

About 300 cancer survivors and their caregivers joined for lunch hosted by Summit Health and the American Cancer Society.

"We're joining thousands of other events involving cancer survivors who come out and celebrate life," said Shendelle Clapper, who helped organize the event with Summit Health.

Doctors diagnosed Corwell in September 2007. His chemotherapy and radiation treatments recently wrapped up in Chambersburg.

All the while, he found himself trying to lift the spirits of other patients.

"It's something you have to deal with, but there's no use having a bad attitude about it," Corwell said.

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The experience has left Corwell in awe of the support shown by family, friends, colleagues, the community and even school classmates he hadn't talked to in 20 years.

"I thought, 'If these people are going to support me, I need to step up and support myself,'" Corwell said.

His wife and 4-year-old son also served as inspirations.

"I want to stick around and see him graduate and have kids," Corwell said.

Corwell's message seemed to ring true with those gathered at King Street United Brethren Church.

"It's emotional, but it's good. It's positive. You can feel the energy," said Kim Bennett, of Chambersburg.

Her mother - Jane Yancoskie of Fayetteville, Pa. - has just started to get her strength back now that she's in remission from rare appendiceal cancer. Mother and daughter are looking forward to celebrating with their old activities like trips to lunch.

"When she went through it, the doctor who did the surgery and the one who followed up, both said it had been their first case," Bennett said.

Jeannette Ertlschweiger, who lives in Quincy Village, said she is thankful for the medical professionals who have helped her and her husband, Herman, through their battles with cancer. The couple have attended several Summit Health cancer events, in large part to see their doctors and nurses.

"I like the fellowship with the people who have treated me," Jeannette Ertlschweiger said.

Thirty treatments with Summit Health Cancer and Hematology Services have shrunk the tumor in Jeannette Ertlschweiger's kidney. She previously overcame endometrial cancer.

"I'm so grateful for those people who are helping me," Jeannette Ertlschweiger said.

The Chambersburg event featured several local artists and some national ones through the "Oncology on Canvas" initiative from Eli Lilly and Co.

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