Survivors’ Sock Hop

On June 3, The Cancer Center at North Florida Regional Medical Center and Florida Cancer Specialists hosted National Cancer Survivors’ Day. Each year on the first Sunday in June, communities across the country gather to celebrate. First introduced by Merril Hastings at the 2nd annual National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1987, Survivors’ Day recognizes individuals who have received and battled a cancer diagnosis. The day demonstrates that “life after a cancer diagnosis can be a reality”.

Communities across the United States and other countries celebrate with parades, festivals, and theme parties. This year NFRMC and FCS hosted a Sock it to Cancer Sock Hop with food, music, raffles and everyone’s favorite bingo, emceed by Connie Gladden, RTT. Patients and guests also enjoyed root beer floats and cake. The physicians and staff at the Cancer Center and FCS are honored to host an event dedicated to patients. As caregivers, it is heartwarming to see our patients enjoy an event dedicated to them and their fight against an unwelcome adversary. The day offers survivors the opportunity to tell their stories and share experiences of their journey. Survivor Gabrielle Goodman told TV 20, “You can share their experiences, you can prepare them for things that might happen. I was told of the side effects of chemotherapy and things that could happen and I had just about every single one of them, so, in turn, I have prepared other women.” Judy Noland told TV 20, “The staff gives you such hope and there is an interaction with the family and there’s nothing they won’t help you go through to get you back to your life.” Patients learn more about the emotional journey from each other than we as caregivers can ever know. Sitting next to a fellow patient in a chemo chair or the radiation oncology waiting room allows some of our patients to forge lifelong relationships. This is a special bond only they can understand.

This year’s event was made possible by the generosity of Kiwanis of Gainesville, FCS staff Bettyann Forsyth and Melody Anderson, Cancer Center staff Linda Turner, Jeanne Wilson, Scott McGee, Jennifer Kelly and her enthusiastic husband Brian and sons, Connie Gladden, Mandy Collins, Janice Johnson, Jasmine McKenzie and Sheri Mayben. Next year’s event will feature a butterfly release and we all look forward to hosting and celebrating with our survivors!