Cancer patients from around the Capital District gathered to tell tales of their journeys through diagnosis, treatment and survival during a sunny June day.
National Cancer Survivor Day was the first Sunday in June, but the Latham Office of New York Oncology Hematology celebrated the event on Friday, June 11.
It's inspirational. It makes you feel hopeful and to enjoy life, said Patricia Audi, a 22-year breast cancer survivor.
Audi has been a Colonie resident for nearly 25 years.
The event was celebrated as a traditional Hawaiian Luau, with tropical music, festive outfits and a spread of food.
Santa Sabatino, a breast cancer survivor, was on hand along with family and friends. She said the opportunity to meet other people who have gone through cancer and treatment is invaluable.
She said she is proud to be spending time with her family since her diagnosis.
"Thank God I'm a survivor for seven years now," Sabatino said.
Sabatino spent the day with Rose Almeida, a three-year survivor who was with one of her six grandchildren, Gavin. She said she was also thankful for the opportunity to spend time with other survivors.
Lori Washburn, front office coordinator of New York Oncology Hematology, said the event was a success largely due to the bright spirits of the survivors, and was also happy with the nice weather sandwiched between a few days of rain.
She said this is the 18th year the Latham branch participated in National Survivor Day, and the 23rd overall year it was celebrated.
Anyone diagnosed with cancer qualifies as a survivor, she said.
"This is an opportunity for them to celebrate being a survivor," Washburn said.
She said sharing stories about treatment is therapeutic for the survivors. They are also given an opportunity to be proud of their journeys, she said, and the event gives them a chance to express their feelings.