On June 2, Carroll Hospital Center will hold its second annual National Cancer Survivors Day Celebration at the Carroll County Farm Museum Pavilion in Westminster.
The free event, which will feature catered food, music and a volleyball game between doctors and nurses from the cancer center, is open to all cancer survivors and their friends and families, according to Karen Alban, the director of oncology services at Carroll Hospital Center and an organizer of the event.
"Survivorship is defined as anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the moment they have received their diagnosis onwards. This is to celebrate their strength and their effort to survive," Alban said.
According to Emily Jew, of Westminster, a current cancer patient at the hospital, undergoing treatment for cancer is such a regimented and intense affair, it crowds out a lot of social interactions people normally take for granted.
"When you have the cancer and are getting treatment, it's very serious and you get so tired it can be hard to talk to one another," Jew said.
So last year, when she saw a flier for the first survivors day celebration put on by the hospital, and that doctors as well as other patients and survivors would be present, Jew decided she had to attend.
"I thought it might give me a chance to meet the nurses and the doctors outside the zone ... It wasn't like a lot of activities, just a simple way to relax and get to know one another outside of doctor, needle and medicine and all that," Jew said.
According to Alban, part of the thinking behind holding the celebration was to allow patients and caretakers to interact with each other in a carefree environment.
"It's a very defined relationship when the patients come in to see the doctors. It's for a very specific purpose ... the environment we have at the survivors day is really unscripted. It's a great change in the relationship and the purpose for the day," Alban said.
This year's event, as last year's, will be purposefully relaxed and unscheduled, according to Karen Cook, an administrative assistant at Carroll Hospital Center who also helped organize the event.
"We want it to be very casual, very laid back like at a family picnic. There's no schedule; you show up and talk to people and relax," Cook said.
The celebration will run from noon until 3 p.m. at the Carroll County Farm Museum Pavilion, 500 S. Center St., Westminster, and will feature music by a DJ, food catered by Harry's Main Street Grille in Westminster, prize drawings, crafts and face painting for children and a volleyball game among doctors, nurses and staff from the hospital, according to Cook.
"I think it's great for the patients to see their doctors being a little silly and out of their suits and ties and dress clothes," Cook said.
While this year will be the second time that Carroll Hospital Center celebrates National Cancer Survivors Day, the event has been celebrated nationwide - and even internationally - for 26 years, according to Paula Chadwell, president of the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation.
"The idea of the celebration evolved when Richard Block, who was one of the co-founders of H & R Block - and a cancer survivor - held a cancer survivors rally in Kansas City, Mo., 26 years ago. The idea caught on in other communities," Chadwell said.
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The foundation now provides support and education for those organizing their own survivors day celebrations, who can then register their event with the foundation at http://www.ncsd.org.
According to Cook, about 70 people registered and came out to the event last year and she hopes the event will grow larger.
"We'd like to see it continue to be a yearly event. Because it was so well received last year, we've done it again this year," Cook said.
Pavilion seating is limited, so those who wish to attend the event should consider bringing beach blankets or lawn chairs, according to Cook.
Advanced registration for the event is also encouraged to help ensure an accurate headcount and is available by calling, 410-871-7000.
According to Alban, however, even those that have not registered are welcome to attend if their lives have been touched by cancer in some way.
"We'd love to have whoever is even just curious about it," Alban said.