Greater Tulsa Reporter
CANCER SURVIVOR: Bob Duffer stands with his wife during Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa’s tree-planting ceremony, held in September. Duffer, who suffered from multiple myeloma, celebrated his five-year anniversary as a cancer survivor with nearly 200 other former patients at CTCA’s annual Celebrate Live event.
In its efforts to raise awareness for various forms of cancer and to recognize those who have triumphed over the disease, Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, 10109 E. 79th St., recently held two special events.
On Sept. 10, Anna’s Belles, the only ovarian cancer support group in Tulsa, hosted its annual awareness walk.
According to the American Cancer Society, it’s expected this year about 22,280 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed, and 14,240 women will die of this form of cancer in the U.S.
This annual event was created to give families of victims and survivors time to meet together and to educate others about the symptoms of ovarian cancer because, oftentimes, the symptoms of this form of cancer go unnoticed.
On Friday, Sept. 16, CTCA in Tulsa held its 21st annual Celebrate Life event, where close to 200 cancer survivors met to celebrate their personal triumphs over cancer, five years after first receiving treatment at CTCA in Tulsa.
The event began with a tree-planting ceremony and white dove release.
“This year our celebration’s theme is ‘A New Day,’” said Jay Foley, interim CEO at CTCA in Tulsa. “We are thrilled to share this milestone in our patients’ lives. Some of our honorees will travel from as far as South Dakota and Florida to be a part of this uplifting day.”
“When a patient comes to CTCA, our entire team, from medical oncologists and registered nurses to physical therapists and licensed dietitians, works together with the individual and their caregivers toward the goal of not just surviving, but thriving,” added Foley. “This event is an important tradition that commemorates their incredible journey and every single new day they enjoy.”
The 199 honorees had the opportunity to add their names on brass leaves to the “Tree of Life” in the hospital’s lobby. In addition, an Interactive Survivor Tree allows visitors to select a specific person’s leaf and hear more about their cancer story.
Following the outdoor tree planting ceremony, the five-year survivors and their caregivers participated in “Hope Rounds,” a special time in which celebrants share a commemorative, lapel pin. While visiting the hospital for their five-year anniversary, each survivor receives two pins – one for themselves and one to share in an encouraging way as a symbolic transfer of hope to patients currently undergoing treatment inside the hospital.
“The ‘Hope Rounds’ portion of the event is one of my favorite parts of Celebrate Life,” said Foley. “It creates a powerful connection between the survivor who has made it through great challenges and the patient who is currently in treatment and in the midst of their own personal journey.”
Additional special activities included a brunch and a closing ceremony. Part of the special activities included celebrants and their families’ visit to “Camp Thrive Survivorship Fair” to learn about integrative services CTCA offers to help patients thrive after cancer treatment and the event’s final activity, where attendees danced the “Cancer Fighters Slide,” an original song and dance that was created for this year’s event.
CTCA, which is celebrating 26 years in Tulsa this year, sees patients from 33 states including Alaska. The average distance that patients travel to CTCA in Tulsa is about 520 miles.