Actress Ann Jillian Inspires fellow Survivors With Optimism At Stony Brook's National Cancer Suvivors Day

 

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    The Celebration Echoes Advances in Cancer Care, Stony Brook’s Plans to Expand Research

    STONY BROOK, NY, June 17, 2011 – Cancer survivors, with their families and friends, came to the Cancer Center at Stony

    Cancer survivors of all ages assemble during the “Parade of Survivors” at Stony Brook University Medical Center’s National Cancer Survivors Day celebration.

    Brook University Medical Center to celebrate survivorship in a festival-like atmosphere during Stony Brook’s National Cancer Survivors Day. The crowd was inspired by Golden Globe-winning actress Ann Jillian, who spoke about battling and beating breast cancer and her 25 years as a survivor.

    “Be an optimist, have a solid foundation in your faith, and have an appreciation for the absurd, in other words – laugh,” said Ms. Jillian, responding to a question in the audience from a fellow breast cancer survivor regarding the best ways to cope through treatment and survivorship. Ms. Jillian got the audience of survivors and Stony Brook University Cancer Center doctors, nurses, and staff to chuckle and smile throughout her presentation, titled “Surviving and Thriving.”  She talked about stages of her treatment and long-term survival, as well as the joys in her life, such as the birth of her son after breast cancer and staying in the show business industry throughout that time and for 40 years.

    Ms. Jillian’s long-term survivorship and the many survivors attending the celebration, which included survivors of breast, ovarian, prostate, lung, and other forms of adult and childhood cancers, personified growing optimism for surviving cancer. According to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, cancer survivorship is growing. There are now nearly 12 million cancer survivors, which is a 20 percent increase within the past six years, and translates to nearly one in 20 U.S. adults being cancer survivors.

    Another sure sign of hope for cancer patients, emphasized Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., Senior Vice President, Health Sciences, Stony Brook University, Dean of the School of Medicine, and a nationally recognized hematologist, are the “continued advances in the development of targeted therapies for some forms of cancer, which may lead to more cures or the long-term management of certain cancers, much like the way chronic diseases such as diabetes are managed.

    “Our vision is to expand cancer research at Stony Brook by further

    Golden-globe winning actress Ann Jillian, center, with Mark and Gloria Snyder of Belle Terre, at left, whose generous sponsorship made Ms. Jillian’s address at Stony Brook’s National Cancer Survivors Day celebration possible. They are joined by Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., Senior Vice President, Health Sciences, Stony Brook University, Dean of the School of Medicine, and his wife, Lauren Kaushansky,Instructor, Professional Education Program, Department of History, Stony Brook University.

    enabling Stony Brook scientists and clinical researchers with additional resources to discover new and better cancer treatments, with one important goal in mind – to make cancer cure rates higher and treatment complication rates lower,” said Dr. Kaushansky.

    Stony Brook’s plans to build a state-of-the-art translational medical research building (MART) that will focus on cancer research, advanced imaging, and cancer care would help get this done, Kaushansky said. The 250,000-square-foot-facility would be located on the Stony Brook University Medical Center campus where scientists and physicians would work side by side to research and discover new treatments and technology.

    Through the new facility potential new cancer treatments and technology could be brought to market more efficiently and quickly. Additionally, the MART’s cancer care unit will more than double Stony Brook’s capacity for outpatient services and enhance inpatient cancer care for Long Island.

    Plans for MART took a major step forward on June 9, when Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced a bill to implement the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program, the groundbreaking legislation for which will help make it possible for Stony Brook to build the new facility.

    Hope was written on the faces of survivors during the festivities and particularly while participating in the “Parade of

    Ann Jillian holding Nikolina Johannessen Corinne Lent is on the left and Ashley Lyons on the right.

    Survivors.” People like June Bedell, a 63-year-old ovarian cancer patient who has twice gone into remission, just completed another round of chemotherapy, and once again is regaining strength. Also celebrating were Mike Magerko and D. Wager, of Coram, a married couple and both cancer survivors. They carry on with hope that new treatments are or will be available to curb or cure their diseases – she is a breast cancer survivor of more than five years and he a lung cancer survivor of three years.

    For the cancer survivors and all attending the event, other aspects of the day’s celebration added to the themes of inspiration of hope. An art exhibit in the Cancer Center included varied works from cancer survivors around the country while undergoing treatment, such as paintings of peaceful nature scenes and colorful reflections of personal pain and physical transformation.

    A stirring play, titled “The Catalysts,” written and directed by Lauren Kaushansky, Instructor, Professional Education Program, Department of History, Stony Brook University,was presented during a Celebration Breakfast honoring Stony Brook patients who have participated in clinical trials during their treatment process. The play, an adaptation of the Lilly Oncology artwork book, featured three actors in the voices of actual survivors. The play revealed voices of anger, grief, deviance, hope and humor illustrating the cancer survivor journey, with a resounding theme that “optimists convert stumbling blocks into stepping stones.”

    Simple enjoyment of fresh air and outdoor activities were also a big part of the day, and central to what Ms. Jillian termed as “having a good time and stepping away from cancer.” This included little kids enjoyed the splashes from a fire truck’s huge water hose demo; some Stony Brook cancer specialists getting soaked in the “Dunk-a-Doc” tank; and dozens of families having their faces painted, or caricatures made for laughs.

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