ZION, Ill. – Survivors of cancer have many reasons to be thankful – better quality of life, more time with children and grandchildren, more time to do things they love to do.
For Lora Wolpink of La Porte, it was the chance to spend more time with her husband.
“Being a five-year survivor has made me stronger and more grateful,” Wolpink said. “As a survivor, I was able to celebrate 40 years of marriage with my wonderful husband, Emil, last fall.”
On Friday, Wolpink joined over 100 other five-year cancer survivors at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in suburban Chicago for its 30th annual Celebrate Life event.
The event that brings together cancer survivors and caregivers for a day of celebration and empowerment, according to Scott Jones, president and CEO of CTCA in Chicago. "Survivors stand united to support one another, celebrate the moments they’ve gained, and encourage those who are currently navigating their own cancer journey."
Survivors from 32 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands arrived at the hospital campus in Zion on eight large coach buses, then walked down a red carpet lined with cheering family, friends, caregivers and hospital staff.
After the red carpet walk, Wolpink took part in a commemorative tree planting ceremony. The 2018 event marked the 30th year that a tree has been planted in honor of each five-year survivor in attendance, "a thriving forest of life-giving trees symbolic of cancer survivorship," Jones said.
While some cancer rates continue to climb, medical treatments are also advancing, providing more patients with the hope and resources they need to battle this disease, Jones said. "Survivorship is the new frontier in cancer care, and hospitals offer dedicated survivorship programs to help patients achieve a high quality of life post-cancer treatment."
Many of the survivors took time to walk through the hospital, offering comfort and “Hope” pins to other patients and family members battling cancer. The day concluded with each survivor personally honored on stage.
“Celebrate Life is one of the most important and revered days of the year for Cancer Treatment Centers of America," Jones said. "It is a moment in time where we amplify our commitment to our patients, and continue our long-established and joyful tradition of honoring our five-year cancer survivors for their fight, determination and courage."