Thousands to Gather in Chicago for Nation's Largest Cancer Survivorship Celebration

Northwestern Medicine
Cancer Care/Oncology May 19, 2014
On Sunday, June 1, nearly 4,000 people, including more than 700 cancer survivors, will gather in Chicago's Grant Park for the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University's 21st Annual Cancer Survivors' Celebration Walk & 5K. The event will bring cancer survivors, families and friends together with the physicians, scientists and health professionals who support them to celebrate survivorship and the tremendous strides made in cancer research and patient care. 

“The walk helps grow awareness in the community that these survivors are strong and that being diagnosed with cancer, and living with cancer, doesn't mean that life outside of dealing with cancer is gone,” said Sheetal M. Kircher, MDNorthwestern Medicine® oncologist and medical co-director of the Cancer Survivorship Institute at the Lurie Cancer Center. “I love going to this event because providers like myself are so often entrenched in medical care and it is really nice to see our patients enjoying their lives outside the hospital.”

A survivor who will be honored as one of the “Faces of Cancer” on banners displayed throughout the event is Jason Chan, co-owner of Juno. Chan opened the highly-acclaimed sushi restaurant in 2013 while receiving radiation therapy and chemotherapy from Northwestern Medicine specialists at the Lurie Cancer Center for stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the throat. 

“Cancer teaches you that it doesn’t matter what happens to you, it is how you react to it that matters,” said Chan. “I think that as cancer survivors, we have a responsibility to set an example for others, and inspire them by showing that having cancer doesn’t mean life can’t be positive. That is why I think this event is so important.” 

“Now more than ever cancer has become a disease that is not only manageable, but one that can be beaten thanks to advances in early detection and treatments that are now available,” added Frank J. Penedo, PhD, director of the Cancer Survivorship Institute. “But it is still very true that in some ways, every day in a cancer survivor’s life is a celebration in its own right. This event provides an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate survivorship as a group.” 

Kathryn Le Fevour has taken advantage of this opportunity since the late 1990s, when she began as a supporter for a friend of her sister’s. More than 15 years later, she is still participating in the Cancer Survivors’ Celebration Walk & 5K, but for a new reason. In 2010, a week after giving birth to her second child, she was diagnosed with ampullary cancer, a rare type of gastrointestinal cancer. Luckily, the cancer had no impact on her daughter’s health and Le Fevour was able to begin treatment four weeks later.

“Many people think that someone is not a survivor until their cancer is completely gone, but it is important to realize everyone is really a survivor starting from the moment they are diagnosed, and that is a powerful message that this event helps to promote,” said Le Fevour. “Every year we have more and more people join my group for the event and they always comment on how fun and inspiring it is to see everyone gathered together with such positive energy.”

Held annually on National Cancer Survivors Day, the Cancer Survivors’ Celebration Walk & 5K features a non-competitive walk along Chicago’s lakefront, followed by a picnic lunch, activities for the family, entertainment and the chance to sign a Dedication Wall. For the second year, participants will also have the option of participating in a chip-timed 5K race.

To learn more about the Lurie Cancer Center's 21st Annual Cancer Survivors' Celebration Walk & 5K.
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