Nearly 200 breast cancer survivors, and their families and friends shared smiles, hugs and laughter with fellow breast cancer survivors and the physicians, nurses and support staff who care for them during the Afternoon of Enlightenment at Lakeview Resort in Morgantown on October 22. WVU Medicine and the WVU Cancer Institute hosted the event to celebrate patient survivorship of the disease. “We are humbled and honored to provide your care,” Hannah Hazard, MD, Cancer Institute Director of Clinical Services and Surgeon-In-Chief, who served as master of ceremonies told the crowd.

Breast cancer survivors and their guests were treated to dinner and several received doorprizes donated by WVU healthcare providers. Dorothy Saunders of Worthington and Brenda Blosser of Morgantown each received a pink Jim Shore angel statue for being the longest and most recently diagnosed survivors, respectively. Saunders was diagnosed in 1979 and Blosser was diagnosed this August. The two met for the first time and exchanged praises about their nurses and doctors. “The clinical staff at the Cancer Institute are my friends,” Saunders said. “They are wonderful, caring, genuine, and you don’t feel like you are just another number,” Blosser added.

During a question and answer session featuring Cancer Institute breast cancer experts, Adham Salkeni, MD, stressed the importance of healthy eating and regular exercise to help patients tolerate cancer treatment better and to reduce the chance of cancer recurrence. Students from the WVU School of Medicine Division of Physical Therapy were also on hand to show survivors simple exercises they could do for strength, flexibility, agility and endurance.

WVU Cancer Institute Director Rich Goldberg, MD, shared the Cancer Institute’s plans for growth to meet the demand for cancer services in West Virginia. Those plans include hiring 38 cancer specialists in the next three years, and renovations and expansions to the Cancer Institute’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, which he said are expected to begin in the next couple weeks.