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Record Number of Cancer Survivors Spark Celebration at Stony Brook

6/11/2014


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More than 300 cancer survivors celebrated at Stony Brook’s annual National Cancer Survivors Day event on June 8.

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The Parade of Survivors is a trek around the Cancer Center in celebration of victories against cancer. Survivors are accompanied by family members, friends…and even Wolfie, center, the Stony Brook University mascot.

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Dr. Yusuf Hannun, Stony Brook University Cancer Center Director, addressed survivors and their families. He said that Center’s approach to clinicians and researchers uncovering the molecular mechanisms of cancer will help revolutionize cancer care for patients.

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Scott Burton, comedian and world-class juggler, stunned the audience with his masterful juggling, and his own personal story as a 20-year cancer survivor.
National Cancer Survivors Day event coincides with unprecedented growth in research and clinical care at the Cancer Center

A record number of cancer survivors came to celebrate life and overcoming cancer with their Stony Brook doctors, nurses and other caregivers at Stony Brook University Cancer Center's 10th annual National Cancer Survivors Day. The more than 300 survivors, along with their families and friends, heard a message of hope that cancer survivorship will continue to rise with 21st Century medical advances and plans at Stony Brook Medicine to increase research on the prevention and treatment of all forms of cancer.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are some 14 million cancer survivors in the United States. National Cancer Survivors Day takes place each June in hundreds of communities in the U.S. and worldwide. Despite the progress on treating many forms of cancer, collectively the disease remains the second most common cause of death in the U.S.

"There is no activity I cherish more than today, the chance to celebrate you, and to celebrate survivorship," said Yusuf A. Hannun, MD, Director, Stony Brook University Cancer Center, Vice Dean, Cancer Medicine, and the Joel Strum Kenny Professor of Cancer Research to the large crowd of survivors.

"We are experiencing a renaissance of unprecedented growth in research and clinical care at Stony Brook University Cancer Center," continued Dr. Hannun. "Our teams include clinicians and researchers tackling issues related to cancer causation, diagnosis, treatment and prevention with a strong emphasis at identifying at a molecular level the basic mechanisms of cancer and how we combat it. This approach will revolutionize cancer care for our patients in our immediate community, all over Long Island, and far beyond."

Dr. Hannun added that the Center's growth will move to the next level with development of the Medical and Research Translation (MART) Building. Part of Stony Brook Medicine's $423 million expansion project, the 245,000 square foot facility, eight-story MART will foster research to help better understand the basis for human disease and where scientific discovery will be translated into clinical research. As part of its core mission, the MART will be devoted to cancer research and care, and ultimately where promising patient results can be turned into FDA-approved healthcare diagnostic and treatment options. The MART will also house an expanded Cancer Center with its outpatient services.

Inspiring survivors and other attendees with the message that laughter in adversity is also good medicine, the event's inspirational speaker and 20-year bone cancer survivor Scott Burton, a professional comedian and world-class juggler kept the audience laughing throughout his hour-long presentation.

"Getting through your cancer battle is a victory, and for me I forgot one thing that comes with that victory and being a long-term survivor -getting older," said Burton, who entertained all with his juggling acts that included unusual feats of skill such as a mouth juggling session with ping pong balls. "Anyone who has survived cancer can see all of life as the bonus round. Our mission is to keep on living, celebrate, and keep doing what we love to do to inspire others."

Survivors like Ann Soper, 69, of East Hampton, a seven-year breast cancer survivor treated at Stony Brook's Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center, celebrated the day with plenty of smiles. She believes that positivity and getting to the right doctors are a perfect combination to improving ones survivorship of cancer.

"I like to look at every day as a new one where good things happen. I eat right, walk, clear my mind of problems, and make sure I get to all of my doctor appointments for my cancer care and for my overall health," said Soper, who had also been treated in recent years for esophageal and thyroid cancers and continues to work part-time as a biller for a landscape company after spending 32 years in banking.

Mary Briny, a long-term breast cancer survivor, was moved to become a Stony Brook University Cancer Center volunteer after all of the care she received at Stony Brook, from the expertise of her surgeons, oncologists and nurses, to the availability of the Center's wellness programs and patient advocacy.

Near the end of the celebration, Dr. Hannun announced the inauguration of the Linda Bily Patient Advocacy Fund. He said Bily's vision, tenacity and perseverance led to Stony Brook launching its first National Cancer Survivors Day event 10 years ago and its continued growth and success, as well as the establishment of the Center's Patient Advocacy Department. To honor Bily and her continued work, the Center is establishing the Fund with a perennial gift of $1,500. The Fund will focus on the psychosocial support of Stony Brook patients and their families.

For more on Stony Brook’s National Cancer Survivors Day event and cancer research and care at Stony Brook Medicine, see this video.
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