VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — This year is the 30th anniversary of National Cancer Survivors Day, which takes place on the first Sunday in June.
According to the National Cancer Survivors Day website, “This day provides an opportunity for all people living with a history of cancer – including America’s more than 15.5 million cancer survivors – to connect with each other, celebrate milestones, and recognize those who have supported them along the way.”
Sentara Healthcare is providing a way to support loved ones through a website. It’s nothing more than sending in photos, inspirational quotes and themes to honor cancer survivors. Survivors will then get a a personalized postcard or email message of love and support to a cancer survivor on behalf of friends, family or loved ones.
This includes survivors like Cindy Allen, the Vice President of Oncology at Sentara Healthcare. After a routine mammogram, she found herself in the same boat as her patients.
“I ran in to get my mammogram, thinking I was bulletproof and it wouldn’t be a problem and at the end of the day, I got a call back that said they saw something suspicious,” said Allen. “As a mother it’s really not about yourself. How am I going to tell my children? How am I going to tell my 84-year-old mother? And how am I going to make my husband not worry?”
Allen underwent chemotherapy and now gets a check-up every six months. She’s part of a small army of cancer survivors and one of many on this website through Sentara Healthcare. It’s about connecting survivors with each other, celebrating milestones and recognizing those who have supported them along the way.
It includes young cancer survivors, too, like eight-year-old Mia Calnan. She fought cancer for six years.
“When I was two, I had cancer, then it came back,” Calnan said.
The Calnan family celebrated the end of her cancer treatments on Christmas of 2013. At that time, they felt as if they had won the battle for good and they thought they would be one of the lucky ones to beat cancer and never look back. That was until Christmas of 2015. Calnan received a bone marrow transplant and then spent 100 days in isolation prior to being discharged. She received chord blood as her stem cell donor from a new baby born back in 2007 — one year before Calnan was born.
“I had cancer again and I was like, ‘Why did this happen?’” said Calnan.
After that, Calnan had a hard time finishing her story. She was emotional. But her mother, who has sacrificed so much, was there to help through the most painful times.
“My mom is my best of friend, she’s my support. I love her so much,” said Calnan.
And, support comes in many forms, whether it’s a mother’s love or a simple picture posted on a website with that small army of survivors.
“It’s an inspiration for others going through a very difficult, to know there are others who have gone before you are in the same boat and there is hope and there is opportunity,” said Allen.
To share photos of support, go online.